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      Updated 5 May 2017

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    • I'm flattered to be described as a Director of Music which although strictly true I suppose, does over-inflate my role as organist of a tiny church with a tiny organ on the point of total failure and no money to fix it. I suspect too that the church will close within 2 or 3 years thanks to the ridiculous amount of money demanded each year by the diocese. The church is in a minute village of perhaps 15 homes and has a congregation of between 8 and 15 souls, all of whom with 2 exceptions come from outside the village solely because of our usage of the BCP and NEH; one family of 3 travelling 20+ miles from Coventry. The mean age is probably 70 and we utterly rely on retired priests to perform the services. I have no objection to some worship songs; there are indeed soome very good examples, but I do know that they would not be accepted at All Saints'. I know this because the Benefice of 4 churches has a Benefice service on a rotating basis on 5th Sundays and in 2 of these, for which I sometimes play, these songs are scheduled. The faction from All Saints' always say that they don't like or want them (or the music group which also accompanies them) when it's our turn. I regularly introduce unfamiliar hymns to them, sometimes to a well-known tune rather than the one set and this seems to go down well. A recent example was "Thee we adore, O hidden Saviour Thee" to the tune of "Abide with Me". This went down really well and I've been asked to repeat soon. (The exercise reminds me of the BBC comedy, still thankfully extant, "I'm sorry I Haven't a Clue" in which my favourite tune swap was "A Whiter Shade of Pale" to the tune of "My Old Man's a Dustman"). It is absolutely true to say that there are some dreadful old hymns. I had to play the tune of "I Vow to Thee" (to alternative words for a wedding last week) and used my school days copy of "Songs of Praise". Some of the dross in there is beyond belief...  
    • Quite right too!  I have to confess that, as far as Cambridge is concerned, my alma mater is Homerton, where I did my teaching year (my degree is from Bristol).  In the hall, there was (in 1979) a Hammond, dated 1937.  It still worked, although it was prone, when it got excited, to emit smoke.  I suppose a lot of us were like that in those days.  I wonder if it's still there.  In a way, I was glad to make its acquaintance, as I was of a similar model in a Belfast suburb where I filled in for Evensong for about six months (Cathedral Evensong was at 3.30).  At least I got to know how to operate the things - as forumites will know, even just switching them on can be far from straightforward.  Real old Hammonds are much sought-after by rock musicians - nothing else makes quite the same sound. Returning to the real things, here are the two other "grinning monkey" cases, apart from Portsmouth Cathedral.  All Hallows, Twickenham (by Renatus Harris, ex-All Hallows, Lombard Street, City of London, brought here when that church was demolished and installed by Kingsgate Davidson to a clever scheme by Cecil Clutton: http://www.npor.org.uk/NPORView.html?RI=N12615 And St. Clement's, Eastcheap, City, by Renatus Harris.  it looks a bit incongruous in its present position perched above the porch, but a fine case all the same.  The organ, rebuilt the last two times by Hill, Norman & Beard,  I always thought to be a good one.  http://www.npor.org.uk/NPORView.html?RI=A00714  
    • “which in turn discourage and completely preclude worship songs“ What a shame that you dismiss a whole genre of music! There are great hymns and awful hymns. There are great worship songs and awful worship songs. Surely the duty of a church Director of Music is to be discerning.
    • I choose the hymns for my church and use both an online lectionary and the "Hymns Suggested for Sundays" in the indices; this helps ensure their relevance. We use the BCP and New English Hymnal which in turn discourage and completely preclude worship songs.