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I don't play that


David Rogers
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A colleague once told this story. A new woman priest was appointed to his parish. She arrived in due course, introduced herself, and presented him with a set of numbers for her first service. He immediately recognized one of the hymns, passed the list back to her and said “I don’t play that”.

 

End of story, really, and probably the end of their working relationship but one has to admire him for taking a stand.

 

This raises the question of organists’ rights and whether or not they may withdraw their services? Fortunately, weak material from the 1970s-80s is less of an issue now. Enthusiasm for the ‘Shine’ thing obviously faded (It was voted the most disliked hymn in a BBC Radio 4 survey) though the Peace Channel and a few other horrors continue to do the rounds.

 

Nevertheless, not all of us are fortunate:recently I had to play two Kendricks and a Beaumont in one service. I considered refusing but in the end suffered in silence. It took hours to ‘wash’ such musically offensive material from my memory.

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A colleague once told this story. A new woman priest was appointed to his parish. She arrived in due course, introduced herself, and presented him with a set of numbers for her first service. He immediately recognized one of the hymns, passed the list back to her and said “I don’t play that”.

 

End of story, really, and probably the end of their working relationship but one has to admire him for taking a stand.

 

This raises the question of organists’ rights and whether or not they may withdraw their services? Fortunately, weak material from the 1970s-80s is less of an issue now. Enthusiasm for the ‘Shine’ thing obviously faded (It was voted the most disliked hymn in a BBC Radio 4 survey) though the Peace Channel and a few other horrors continue to do the rounds.

 

Nevertheless, not all of us are fortunate:recently I had to play two Kendricks and a Beaumont in one service. I considered refusing but in the end suffered in silence. It took hours to ‘wash’ such musically offensive material from my memory.

 

Unless things have changed, in most churches the clergy have the right to select both hymns and tunes, although sensible ones will be open to experienced advice.

 

About 35 years ago, I was depping during the university vacation at the church where I started out as a chorister. One of the hymns was to one of the weaker '20th Century Light Church Music' tunes (I think it was 'O Jesus, I have promised'). In announcing it, the Rector (a terrible snob) enthused about 'this s-s-s-splendid modern tune, don't you think so, David?'). I thought, "Heck!', but said, 'No, I think it's an awful tune' and started the playover.

 

I rather like 'Shine, Jesus, shine', but don't tell anyone....

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Different vicars operate in different ways. I'm sure in many Parish Churches the DOMs pick the music without any interference from the clergy whatsoever. In Cathedrals its usually the Precentor.

 

I currently pick the hymns at our place, and the vicar is happy for me to do so on the basis that he may change them as he wants. As such I probably pick less modern ones than he would like but try to include sufficient that he is happy and doesn't feel the need to change them. Its been a long while since he has, as well, at least a year I would guess. When I prepare the next quarter's list I usually ask if there are any he would like including (where practical) which also helps me to regulate on things which we might not have sung for a while. When picking thematically some are easier to allocate than others. Some weeks tend to be better than others, but such is the way.

 

I don't think I would ever refuse to play something, though. Surely whether services can be withdrawn depends on whether there is a contract and the organist is paid, or if they are offering their services voluntarily.

 

When I saw the title I assumed it would be about wedding couples requesting awkward things! I can't be bothered (for example) with the Arrival of the Queen of Sheba. Fortunately, I've not yet had it requested.

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Different vicars operate in different ways. I'm sure in many Parish Churches the DOMs pick the music without any interference from the clergy whatsoever. In Cathedrals its usually the Precentor.

 

I currently pick the hymns at our place, and the vicar is happy for me to do so on the basis that he may change them as he wants.

It is a long time ago that I took services in one of the free churches, but I had been taught that the service needed to be planned as a whole, with the readings, hymns and sermon related to each other, and if the DOM chooses the hymns, the lectionary prescribes the readings, and the preacher chooses the theme of the sermon, without some co-ordination won't the result be an unrelated ragbag?

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It is a long time ago that I took services in one of the free churches, but I had been taught that the service needed to be planned as a whole, with the readings, hymns and sermon related to each other, and if the DOM chooses the hymns, the lectionary prescribes the readings, and the preacher chooses the theme of the sermon, without some co-ordination won't the result be an unrelated ragbag?

 

Well, I do take care with the hymns I pick. Every time I do a new list I sit down with the Bible, RSCM's 'Sunday by Sunday', a book called 'Sing God's Glory' (which gives lectionary-based selections - a good buy at about £10 if you're in the business of choosing hymns) and the indexes at the back of HON and Common Praise (which both suggest hymns based on the lectionary) and put the list together using these. Then I just need to strike a balance between traditional and modern, not repeating something in the three month period and fitting the hymns into the right place in the service; if we have smoke (major festivals, mostly), you need an extra long offertory hymn to cover the censing of the altar and congregation, and so on. Some readings lend themselves to specific hymns more easily than others, so how well they fit can vary a bit. A couple of months ago, the curate did ask for a specific hymn to be included to match her sermon, which we did, but given the pew sheets with the hymn words are printed on Thursdays, I wouldn't be totally confident that our vicar will have decided by then what he will be preaching about! Sometimes I will listen to the sermon and feel slightly smug at how well the hymns fit; other times they don't seem to work that well. Its not an exact science, but bearing in mind all the different factors you have to work with it never will be. Lets face it, picking hymns can be a pretty thankless task which is more likely to lead to complaints than congratulations, but given I don't get too many of either I think I'm doing alright!

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I can't be bothered (for example) with the Arrival of the Queen of Sheba. Fortunately, I've not yet had it requested.

 

What’s wrong with The Arrival of the Queen of Sheba? (Not picking a quarrel, just curious.)

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What’s wrong with The Arrival of the Queen of Sheba? (Not picking a quarrel, just curious.)

 

It just does nothing for me, so I can't be bothered to learn it! I guess it feels too much like arpeggio practice.

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  • 2 weeks later...

It is a long time ago that I took services in one of the free churches, but I had been taught that the service needed to be planned as a whole, with the readings, hymns and sermon related to each other, and if the DOM chooses the hymns, the lectionary prescribes the readings, and the preacher chooses the theme of the sermon, without some co-ordination won't the result be an unrelated ragbag?

 

Not necessarily.

 

As it happens, last night I hosted a meeting of our hymn selection committee, which consists of three people (including myself). Amongst this number is a member of the church clergy. We have the Sunday by Sunday booklets from the RSCM, the Lectionary and other materials to hand. The hymns are chosen with reference to the set readings (the relevant Biblical passages are looked-up, if necessary). In addition, any events or special services peculiar to our church are taken into consideration.

 

As a general rule, the end result is fairly harmonious. Naturally, if we have a visiting preacher, the sermon could be about anything, but these occasions are the only exceptions. (Incidentally, in case anyone is wondering, I do not know whether visiting preachers are given the option of requesting a specific hymn for either the Offertory or Post-Communion slots; however, I suspect that this is not encouraged - partly due to the nature of our services.)

 

The present situation is certainly preferable to that which obtained previously, where the hymns were chosen by a different member of our church clergy, without reference to either my colleague or myself - or, in fact, anyone else. This had been put in place by the previous Rector, immediately prior to the interregnum. The result was, to say the least, entirely unsatisfactory. Hymns were chosen politically, apparently without thought to their relationship either to each other, or to the service as a whole. We had Gradual hymns that were far too long, Offertory hymns which were too brief and often the final hymn, rather than trying to draw the service to a close with a suitable 'atmosphere' (for want of a better word) - and to send the congregation out with a sense of the Glory of God, was often little more than a maudlin dirge.

 

There have of course been a few mistakes - such as the hymn Man of sorrows, during Lent (the refrain contains an 'Alleluia' †) - or a couple of weeks ago, when we missed the fact that it was Sea Sunday (well, it was not in the Lectionary).

 

However, nomally we take care to select hymns not only for their perceived suitability for their place in the service, but also for the combined effect of the words and the music.

 

With regard to a post above - I have occasionally been asked (usually by prospective wedding couples) for items which I have deemed unsuitable. A recent example was a bride who wished to have Colours of day. My response was a firm, but not unkind 'I am sorry - I do not know that song. It is not in any of our hymnbooks.' *

 

Whilst some may view such a course of action with dismay, I have no qualms whatsoever. I take the view that, these days, some form of 'quality control' is necessary, particularly with the increasingly odd choices which are requested by wedding couples. Presumably, this is largely due to what they were given to sing in school. (I am aware that there are many schools in which music is regarded as an important facet of a child's education by senior management and in which music is taught with skill, enthusiasm and informed taste. However, there are also many schools in which this is not the case, for a multitude of reasons.)

 

 

 

 

† In some versions of the text, the word is spelled 'Hallelujah'.

 

* A more extreme example was an e-mail which I received from a bride-to-be, requesting that I send her a copy of the music of Widor's Toccata, in order that the string quartet (which was due to play before the service) could 'join in with it'. On this occasion, whilst being neither rude or unkind, my response left no room whatsoever for argument.

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Nevertheless, not all of us are fortunate:recently I had to play two Kendricks and a Beaumont in one service. I considered refusing but in the end suffered in silence. It took hours to ‘wash’ such musically offensive material from my memory.

 

I had a similar experience a couple of weeks ago. The Townend ones do it for me - execrable stuff.

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  • 2 weeks later...

we missed the fact that it was Sea Sunday

 

Missed that one myself. As did the boss.

 

Our process is similar to pcnd's. We get the lessons (on which the sermons will be based) well in advance, usually a block of 4-5 months, and pick hymns which are relevant to the text and the season, with some sense of 'shape'. Usually a welcoming, gathering, wake-up to start, something gentler in the middle especially near the intercessions, and a big finish.

 

Which hasn't stopped me scheduling 'for those in peril on the sea' for the deputy to play while we're on a sailing holiday.

 

Alas, we don't have a big enough choir to lead Anglican chant sensibly, and it puzzles most of the congregation, so we have a long list of 'hymns based on psalms' to fill that slot.

 

Bet your clergy are never late. We're the second in the benefice on a Sunday morning.... :huh:

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Missed that one myself. As did the boss.

 

... Which hasn't stopped me scheduling 'for those in peril on the sea' for the deputy to play while we're on a sailing holiday. ...

 

Ha.

 

I recall the first time our parish priest used a female reader with whom to share Evensong, the first hymn was Great God, what do I see and hear?

 

What I saw and heard, reflected in my console mirror, was my mother stomping down the aisle, a face like thunder, with my father in tow, looking both stunned and embarrassed. As he passed, he gave me a sheepish grin and shrugged his shoulders - and whispered something about 'being hung for a sheep...' My mother was not one to disagree with the Pauline teaching of women not being allowed to have authority over men in church.

 

Still, the hymn made a few of us laugh - briefly, and only after my father had shut the door to the south porch very, very, quietly.

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There have of course been a few mistakes - such as [...] a couple of weeks ago, when we missed the fact that it was Sea Sunday (well, it was not in the Lectionary).

This is traditionally always the second Sunday in July. For us, it's always an excuse for the Sumsion (They that go down to the sea in ships), and the tenors and basses relish - without fail - the reeling to and fro, and the staggering of the drunken man.

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This is traditionally always the second Sunday in July. For us, it's always an excuse for the Sumsion (They that go down to the sea in ships), and the tenors and basses relish - without fail - the reeling to and fro, and the staggering of the drunken man.

 

Well, quite.

 

However, I have always wondered about that - how can one go down to the sea in a ship? Unless, of course, one was a crewman on a lifeboat. Even then, it is usually only a short slipway and then the boat (not ship, in any case) is sailing on the water.

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Well, quite.

 

However, I have always wondered about that - how can one go down to the sea in a ship? Unless, of course, one was a crewman on a lifeboat. Even then, it is usually only a short slipway and then the boat (not ship, in any case) is sailing on the water.

 

 

=======================

 

 

Dear, dear, dear!

 

You don't know much about maritime matters, do you?

 

Sailing ships always sailed from safe havens, because even when stationary, they were vunerable to gales etc. Consequently, just about every major port was situated on a river, and the ships would go down to the sea on the ebb tide. Major ports in rivers include(d), London, Bristol, Liverpool, Hedon (not Hull originally), Newcastle, Portsmouth, Yarmouth (and all the other mouths of major rivers), Boston etc etc.

 

A QI moment for you here.....

 

Did you know that Howden was once a bustling port town serving the wool-trade and the abbeys?

 

The river moved and left the docks high and dry, but the old docks are still visible. The port and city of Hull is named after the river Hull, not the Humber, because the Humber is as treacherous as open sea with very fast rip tides and open to savage gales, (being about 2 miles to 1 mile wide, depending on where you are). The port of Hull was actually a little tributary feeding into the Humber, and this is where the remains of the old docks are to be found.

 

So there's your answer as to why they go down to the sea in ships..

 

MM

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=======================

 

 

Dear, dear, dear!

 

You don't know much about maritime matters, do you? ...

 

MM

 

Apparenty not.

 

I do not profess to be an expert on every subject - nor have I experience in almost every kind of job or vocation.

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Apparenty not.

 

I do not profess to be an expert on every subject - nor have I experience in almost every kind of job or vocation.

 

 

============================

 

 

You're annoyed aren't you? I can tell. :(

 

MM

 

PS: I think I came from the bottom of the sea....a bit of a sponge.

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Musing Muso - Do give nice Mr 5584 some credit for his honesty and humility. It isn't difficult - in fact it's extremely easy - to think of some organists (present company excepted, of course) who really believe they ARE experts on everything.

 

Malcolm

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Musing Muso - Do give nice Mr 5584 some credit for his honesty and humility. It isn't difficult - in fact it's extremely easy - to think of some organists (present company excepted, of course) who really believe they ARE experts on everything.

 

Malcolm

 

============================

 

 

It's not expertise, but simple logic. If something goes down, it must first be up, and the only thing a ship can be up is either a river or perhaps a creek without a paddle. Of course, there are ships which jack themselves up on stilts, but I don't think that came into it.

 

Now when it comes to knowing everything, that is an absurdity, and one of the principal reasons why people communicate is precisely the fact that knowledge shared is knowledge gained, and no-one can ever know much about anything....not even organ music.

 

Now if someone says, "I've never understood that," what is the appropriate response if one happens to know the answer?

 

Do you ignore their plight? Consider them stupid? Tell everyone else that they're dumb?

 

Surely, the nice thing to do is to make light of it and share the knowledge? Isn't that what teaching and learning is all about, and if it is, why should anyone presume to teach if they are offended when corrected or informed of facts?

 

In my own defence, I will forever be grateful for the fact that I was only ever a teacher very briefly...I hated it. I am also glad that I gained practical experience in engineering, and doubly glad that I got out before it all collapsed around me. I was an expert in only one thing, and that was being assigned or contracted ..... to numerous companies with financial problems and sorting them out, by getting to grips with the dynamics of how particular companies work or fail to work; sometimes involving the pleasure of putting companies on a firmer footing, and sadly, sometimes setting in motion their winding up. That expertise took me to three continents and involved possibly in excess of £1 billion, during which I gained extensive knowledge of so many different manufacturing processes, logistical systems, markets and the things which make companies function. There is an enormous difference between expertise and a good working knowledge of things, but the more one sees, the more one learns...and yes....I'm sorry to inform you that I did happen to spend time in Dorset and Devon on behalf of a marine engineering company!!!

 

Best,

 

MM

 

 

PS: In my dotage, I'm a fairly expert truck-driver three nights a week. Does that count?

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Well I certainly don't consider you stupid or dumb, and I'm sure everyone on the board would think likewise. You wouldn't do what you do amd achieve what you've achieved if that were the case.

 

There's a world of diference between pulling someone's leg and hacking one off with a chainsaw!

 

MM

 

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I had an unusual request for a wedding last Saturday - the main theme from 'Game of Thrones'. In North America, it's customary for the bridesmaids to come in first (nearly always to Pachelbel's Canon), and then the bride. On this occasion, they wanted the theme fairly quiet for the bridesmaids and then louder and quicker for the bride. The version I used as a basis has been removed from YouTube, but the couple had this one on their iPhones:

 

 

We have some nice violes on the Solo Organ, plus lots of other soupy stuff (including an original Hope-Jones Vox), so it was fairly easy to cook up a convincing version.

 

When it comes to music requests, I try to keep things simple by saying that, in musical terms, it has to work on a pipe organ and vocal solos must be done without microphones. This one worked very well - I even got a hug from the bride afterwards.

 

I must confess, the music appealed to me and, as a life-long Tolkien fan, Wiki's description of the series as "The Sopranos meets Lord of the Rings" was enough to get me to buy the book. I haven't started it yet (finishing off Jill Paton Walsh's latest Lord Peter Wimsey - I'm a Dorothy L. Sayers fan too).

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