Sunday, January 17, 2010

Alone at the Organ

Seated Today at the Organ

People tell you that it is good to sit in the pews occasionally; for a former organist, its good to play for a liturgy occasionally.

Those of us who lead public worship, have -  at one time or another - been critical of the organist: too fast; too soft; too loud; wrong tune; a daydreamer  - etcetera. It can be a lonely and frustrating gig, especially if the choir are on leave and the clergy are not accustomed to working together or in that particular liturgical space.

Part of my role as Bishop's Chaplain is to have a through understanding of any liturgy that the Bishop will take part in well in advance of the start of the service.  That includes knowing what everybody else should be doing and when. I have learnt to be gentle in these enquires and with my suggestions for how things might otherwise be done.

As part of this preparation, I always consult with the Organist and/or Choir Director and make sure that they are aware of any last minute changes.  When you are the organist, as I was today, up in the organ loft and away from the action,  it is difficult to switch off and just be the organist for the day. How do you signal down to the sanctuary that the  presider has his radio microphone on and therefore  all of his aside  comments to the concelebrants (spoken loudly as one has a hearing problem and one an English problem) are being heard clearer in the nave than by those standing either side of him? The MC was out stoking the  thurible so there was no other option than to play louder.

All in all it was a good morning: the mass was celebrated; the people sung well and Christ was made known in bread and wine and through his people.  In future I will be strive to be kinder and exercise  more compassion for organists.

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