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Interrupted Voluntary

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I was 'filling in' fo the first time at a nearby village church on Sunday pm (full Prayerbook Evensong plus chanted Mag/Nunc and Psalm and 25 in congregation) when the churchwarden turned off the power to the organ - mid voluntary!! Power returned after about 5 minutes when he realised that he had not in fact turned off the PA system - but by then I had packed up and was off down the aisle.

 

A

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I was 'filling in' fo the first time at a nearby village church ... when the churchwarden turned off the power to the organ - mid voluntary!!

A church might do that to me once, but only once. They wouldn't get another chance. :)

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I was 'filling in' fo the first time at a nearby village church on Sunday pm (full Prayerbook Evensong plus chanted Mag/Nunc and Psalm and 25 in congregation) when the churchwarden turned off the power to the organ - mid voluntary!! Power returned after about 5 minutes when he realised that he had not in fact turned off the PA system - but by then I had packed up and was off down the aisle.

 

A

 

Something very similar happened to us on Maundy Thursday: in our case, the Wardens were switching off the lights whilst the Altar was stripped and we sang a psalm. Unfortunately, they switched off the lights in the Chancel - and since we have no candle sticks on our stalls, that meant we couldn't see and had to grind to a halt. Rather embarrassing... next year, I shall be putting red tape over certain light switches, that's for sure!

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At least AJJ's and MSW's experiences were the result of a genuine accident. A PA operator once attempted to drown me out by playing a worship song CD through the sound system.

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Something very similar happened to us on Maundy Thursday: in our case, the Wardens were switching off the lights whilst the Altar was stripped and we sang a psalm. Unfortunately, they switched off the lights in the Chancel - and since we have no candle sticks on our stalls, that meant we couldn't see and had to grind to a halt. Rather embarrassing... next year, I shall be putting red tape over certain light switches, that's for sure!

 

I thought that was supposed to happen. The choir then symbolically shambles out in a deliberate state of chaos, perhaps taking their robes off as they leave the chancel. Symbolic of the disciples fleeing the garden of Gethsemane in terror and confusion. And before anyone asks, yes I am being serious. I have always encouaged choirs to do exactly what I have just described. I have seen very similar things done at All Saints Margaret Street and you can't get much more liturgically correct than that!

 

Malcolm

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I thought that was supposed to happen. The choir then symbolically shambles out in a deliberate state of chaos, perhaps taking their robes off as they leave the chancel. Symbolic of the disciples fleeing the garden of Gethsemane in terror and confusion. And before anyone asks, yes I am being serious. I have always encouaged choirs to do exactly what I have just described. I have seen very similar things done at All Saints Margaret Street and you can't get much more liturgically correct than that!

 

Malcolm

 

Hm, on second thoughts, perhaps I'll have the switches left as they are and encourage the Choir to do that if it happens again. It would be very dramatic and very appropriate - and if there are any complaints from clergy or crowd, I'll point it out to them afterwards...

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A few weeks ago we lost all power to the church mid-gradual. The choir really did lead the congregational hymn singing from then on. Fortunately, the Mass setting was unaccompanied anyhow.

 

Why?

 

We had just had a multi-tens-of-thousands-of AUD rewiring of all the church, new lighting, new heating, but no one had calculated the total power that might be drawn, and we blew a fuse on the power pole on the road outside the church.

 

As for the lights or power being turned out during the final voluntary - I even object to the candles in the sanctuary being extinguished before I've finished.

 

I remember, when I was accompanying a visiting choir at St Stephens in Vienna, that one of the priests returned to the lectern to make an announcement shortly after the assistant organist had started the postlude. This was drawn to the organist's attention, but he insisted, rightly, on continuing to the end of the postlude, after which the announcement was made and people left in silence. The priest at least showed some decorum by waiting patiently until the organist finished. I've observed a minister try making an announcement over the top of the postlude. Fortunately, it was not me playing at the church.

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In the church where I now play, a voluntary before or after the service is rare, the church preferring people to pray beforehand and come for healing ministry afterwards. I do play voluntaries by prior arrangement, and have begun to overcome misunderstandings, ignorance, awkward attitudes etc by playing music relevant to that Sunday. This is not just relevant liturgically, but relevant socially, or should that societally, and relevant to the time of year, eg Jongen Chant de Mai, or Hollins Spring Song. I also put a brief programme note, a couple of sentences or so, on the notice sheet for people to read, and invite them to sit and treat it as part of their worship, or afterwards gather around the console if they wish to.

 

Yes, it's hard work finding and often having to learn the music, and the links are sometimes a little tenuous, but it breaks down barriers, and blatantly demonstrates that the organist is trying to serve the worshipping needs of the community. There will always be one miserable sod who won't understand, but my skin is thicker than their tongue, although perhaps not their brain. The problem comes when there are some wonderful pieces of music that have absolutely no relevance to the life of the church or the population. However, having established the former, you can often get away with the latter.

 

AJS

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Until the recent interregnum our incumbent would say a prayer 5 minutes before the service was due to begin and would then announce "As is our custom, we shall now remain silent before the service starts and prepare ourselves for worship". I would then play the first voluntary - timed carefully - and the service would begin after the voluntary finished.

 

Unfortunately, this hasn't happened since the interregnum, and I've had to get used to doing battle with chatter again. It was even worse yesterday when, halfway through the opening voluntary, the churchwarden decided to announce over the sound system that the Bishop has advised people not to shake hands at the Peace, nor to practise intinction for the same reason. :blink:

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