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Sermon Occupations For Organists

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Whilst I have no wish to provoke anyone, I was wondering what colleagues do during sermons.

 

It is entirely possible that Rev. Newnham may suggest that one should listen. Believe me, I have tried, but since I normally have to endure three every Sunday, there really is a limit to what I can stand.

 

Many of ours really are not that good. By this I mean that there could be a number of perceived faults:

 

* Too many points

* Drifting from the subject

* Dry, uninteresting delivery

* Self-indulgent waffle (replete with funny stories, in order not to mind sitting still for twenty minutes.

* Too scholarly

* Too excitable

* Too long

* Using the same sermon three times on the same day (Oh yes he did!)

etc, etc.

 

I find that the worst time is during Choral Evensong. I am sorry, but by 19h10 on a Sunday evening, having already played the best part of three fully-choral services, two rehearsals and possibly practised the odd voluntary or two, I am just not interested in concentrating on some person mumbling away from the pulpt.

 

Anyway, I often use the time to do some marking or other school preparation. I also occasionally do some work for my Russian lessons. Often, though, I just sit and read a book.

 

I do not doubt that there are some amongst us who listen carefully, learn and feel the better for the instruction. Ths is, of course, a good thing.

 

Unfortunately, I am not that good!

 

Any further suggestions?

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Many years ago a friend of mine was standing in for an organist who had gone on holiday and as he was intending to play a major piece of music at the end had taken a pager turner with him.

 

The organ, which was somewhat buried in a chamber has a D.I.Y. amplification system to help get the sound into the church.

 

It so happened that this was the Sunday on which the local Lay Reader was given a chance to preach at morning service and being one who thought he was a great scholar and liked the sound of his own voice was dertimined to give the congregation their moneys worth.

 

After 35 minutes, the organist turned to his page turner and said "Hasn't the silly old fool got a home to go to" - only he did not say fool. Unfortunately this was picked up by one of the organ microphones and clearly relayed round the church. No matter how many of the congregation might have agreed with him he was not asked to play there again.

 

Frank Fowler

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Whilst I have no wish to provoke anyone, I was wondering what colleagues do during sermons.

 

Any further suggestions?

 

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

 

Various things I have done during sermons:-

 

 

1) Fed a hamster in a box (I kid you not!)

 

2) Slept

 

3) Put new points in the car distributor

 

4) Read a book

 

5) Drawn cartoons

 

6) Spilled aniseed balls on the pedals

 

7) Polished the console woodwork

 

8) Cleaned the keys and stop-heads

 

9) Replaced pedal light bulbs

 

10) Practised silent voluntaries

 

11) Polished my shoes

 

Lest but not least.......

 

 

12) Went to the pub for a pint (It was a very hot evening)

 

 

This does not compare, of course, with Samuel Sebastian-Wesley, who was found floundering in the river, after falling in whilst fishing during the sermon at Worester.

 

Oh! Almost forgot!

 

A few of us went outside once to watch them demolish a couple of cooling-towers with explosives.

 

That was quite exciting....."In the name of the....KERBOOM...father, the son and.....KERBOOM...the Holy.....Dear God, what was that?"

 

:)

 

MM

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Listening to 'The Archers' on the console sound system (somewhat duff then I think perhaps) of a well known home counties Cathedral. More recently attempting to stop my elder daughter (then aged 6) from escaping from the console area over the back of the choirstalls.

 

AJJ

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Made tea and fish-cakes in the organ (useful power point) during the Good Friday vigil. :) Very good too.

At Winchester one of us used to pop out of the loft and go over the mini Sainsbury's on Sunday morning for a bag of doughnuts to eat during the sermon. Very nice they were too, but the keys got a bit sticky.

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Whilst I have no wish to provoke anyone, I was wondering what colleagues do during sermons.

 

It is entirely possible that Rev. Newnham may suggest that one should listen. Believe me, I have tried, but since I normally have to endure three every Sunday, there really is a limit to what I can stand.

 

 

I do not doubt that there are some amongst us who listen carefully, learn and feel the better for the instruction. Ths is, of course, a good thing.

 

Unfortunately, I am not that good!

 

Any further suggestions?

 

 

Has anyone considered that in a parallel universe somewhere there will be a web site for clergy with a thread "Voluntaries: occupations for clergy" I wonder what it says? Perhaps things like the following :

 

 

 

 

Too long

*Shows no sign of having seen the music before he started to play

* Dry, uninteresting playing of dull boring music

* Self-indulgent waffle *

Too scholarly

* Not appropriate in the context of the service

 

* Playing the same piece of music three times on the same day (Oh yes he did!)

etc, etc

 

I do not doubt the accuracy of what PCND describes for one moment but I wonder whether it is really the case that ALL clergy are destined for Hell while ALL organists have a confirmed reservation within the pearly gated enclosure ?

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I wonder whether it is really the case that ALL clergy are destined for Hell while ALL organists have a confirmed reservation within the pearly gated enclosure ?

 

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

 

No, as one organist said to me some years ago, "If they're all going up there playing harps, I'm going to make sure I go to the other place."

 

It has its' attractions....warmth, fireside chats, blower treadmills on which to keep fit etc. As for the attitude of the "boss," well we've all lived with that for years, so that would be nothing new.

 

I've been to hell and back with so many clergy, I lost count.

 

MM

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I do not doubt the accuracy of what PCND describes for one moment but I wonder whether it is really the case that ALL clergy are destined for Hell while ALL organists have a confirmed reservation  within the pearly gated enclosure ?

 

Well, I would not dream of suggesting that, Brian!

 

I think that the answer to the question of what the clergy do during our voluntaries is this: They leave the building within the first two lines and go and talk loudly to the faithful in the North Porch....

 

:D

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Well, I would not dream of suggesting that, Brian!

 

I think that the answer to the question of what the clergy do during our voluntaries is this: They leave the building within the first two lines and go and talk loudly to the faithful in the North Porch....

 

:D

 

Always excepting the Dean at Guildford ?

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10)  Practised silent voluntaries

At least, MM, you practised silent voluntaries.

 

Somehow, a cheesy grin and big "sorry" just doesn't cut it when ...

 

You start out practising silently, decide you've done enough, set a fairly vigorous registration to announce the next hymn, read for a few minutes, get bored, forget what you've done already (viz. the fatal mistake of setting the next registration), decide "I'll get in a little more practice", then launch into the opening bar of the Tournemire / Duruflé "Victimae Paschali Laudes" - it was a pretty well-attended Easter service - startling the heck out of everyone, not least he of the reversed collar.

 

I'm not one for setting registrations too early these days ...

 

Rgds

MJF

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Guest Lee Blick

Playing a fairly high note on a Tierce or Larigot stop with the box shut during the sermon would often set the old dears off in unison to check the reception of their hearing aids....

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Playing a fairly high note on a Tierce or Larigot stop with the box shut during the sermon would often set the old dears off in unison to check the reception of their hearing aids....

You wouldn't? Love it!

 

I might have mentioned the sequal to my little mishap above. Our rector came up to me after the service, having seen off all and sundry at the porch, and me having just finished the Victimae Paschali Laudes to what was, by then, a pretty empty church. With the most accusing look you can imagine, he asked me "haven't I heard that somewhere before, hmmm?" Suddenly I felt too short to reach the pedals ...

 

Rgds

MJF

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

 

No, as one organist said to me some years ago, "If they're all going up there playing harps, I'm going to make sure I go to the other place."

 

It has its' attractions....warmth, fireside chats, blower treadmills on which to keep fit etc.  MM

 

And you know so many more people....................

 

BJ

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Many years ago, when organist of a village church in Leicestershire we went through an interregnum period and apart from Communion services we seemed to have a procession of long winded Lay Preachers.

 

This resulted in the Lady of the Manor putting a notice on the pulpit book desk, "IF YOU CAN'T SAVE THE SOULS OF OUR CONGREGATION IN SEVEN MINUTES - GIVE UP". it worked too!

 

Some years later, having moved to London, when in the district I looked into the church - the notice was still there, I hope it still is.

 

Frank Fowler

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Guest Nigel ALLCOAT
Many years ago, when organist of a village church in Leicestershire we went through an interregnum period and apart from Communion services we seemed to have a procession of long winded Lay Preachers.

 

This resulted in the Lady of the Manor putting a notice on the pulpit book desk,  "IF YOU CAN'T SAVE THE SOULS OF OUR CONGREGATION IN SEVEN MINUTES - GIVE UP". it worked too!

 

Some years later, having moved to London, when in the district I looked into the church - the notice was still there, I hope it still is.

 

Frank Fowler

 

Leicestershire is still full of eccentric folk, dear Frank! I happily continue the lineage.

 

When I helped out in Burbage (before they got rid of the pipe organ for a Bradford Electrorg in a 15 minute PCC meeting - sorry to tell you this), the hot air emanating from the pulpit reminded me that I ought to turn the roast in the oven. So I walked home through the village and did so many a time. My inner soul received far better meat and nourishment this way than from holy hot waffles.

Best wishes,

Nigel

 

P.S. Does anyone know if the switch called "Doom" is still on the stairs up to the pulpit in Penn PC? How I wish that all had such a device attached (not to illuminate the painting over the chancel arch as at Penn), but to a Panto-like trap door.

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Many years ago, when organist of a village church in Leicestershire we went through an interregnum period and apart from Communion services we seemed to have a procession of long winded Lay Preachers.

 

This resulted in the Lady of the Manor putting a notice on the pulpit book desk,  "IF YOU CAN'T SAVE THE SOULS OF OUR CONGREGATION IN SEVEN MINUTES - GIVE UP". it worked too!

 

Some years later, having moved to London, when in the district I looked into the church - the notice was still there, I hope it still is.

 

Frank Fowler

 

Hi

 

A bit on the short side for me! (Usually 15-20 minutes - but the sermon is given rather more importance in most free churches - I can do short when needed!)

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

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Nigel

 

P.S. Does anyone know if the switch called "Doom" is still on the stairs up to the pulpit in Penn PC? How I wish that all had such a device attached (not to illuminate the painting over the chancel arch as at Penn), but to a Panto-like trap door.

 

Hi

 

I've wished this was connected to a trap door under the organ bench on a few occaisions!

 

Tony

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Guest Lee Blick

I think there should be a limit of ten minutes for a sermon. Although I have had the pleasure of hearing some very good sermons, the standard of preaching in this country is poor in my opinion. Reading out 'an essay' is just not good enough. There should be more training at college to improve the standard of preaching in our churches.

 

Sorry to be blunt.

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I have heard of an organist spending the sermon dribbling incense on to the naked 150W bulb that illuminated the pedal board. No incense was being used as part of the service!

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I have heard of an organist spending the sermon dribbling incense on to the naked 150W bulb that illuminated the pedal board.  No incense was being used as part of the service!

 

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

 

This reminds me of an excellent tale about a church in Yorkshire, where the bishop decided that it was a bit TOO catholic. He appointed and installed a new vicar with more moderate leanings, much to the disgust of the organist at the time, who was well known to me.

 

Donald was quite a character, and when the new vicar banished the processions and incense, he hatched a slightly demented plot.

 

Utterly appalled that he was asked to include "Onward, Christian soldiers" as part of the hymnody, he produced a song-sheet version of it and placed it on the choir-stalls.

 

Before dramatically walking out mid-service, dear old Donald took great delight in conducting the choir for the hymn; the words of which went:-

 

"Onward, Christian soldiers, going on before, with the cross of Jesus, nailed behind the door!"

 

:o

 

MM

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I think there should be a limit of ten minutes for a sermon.  Although I have had the pleasure of hearing some very good sermons, the standard of preaching in this country is poor in my opinion.  Reading out 'an essay' is just not good enough.  There should be more training at college to improve the standard of preaching in our churches.

 

Sorry to be blunt.

Reminds me of the comment made about Christopher Tye when he was rector of Doddington-cum-Marche, near Ely: "A doctor of music, but not skillful at preaching"!

 

I've known good and bad. When I was a choirboy I once decided to listen to a sermon and discovered much to my surprise that our vicar was really quite riveting! It was his sermons that converted me to Christianity. Reading, on the other hand, has always turned me off. I want to hear conviction, enthusiasm and spontaneity; I don't want a Dimbleby lecture.

 

At one church I used to disappear outside for a smoke during the sermon. Unfortunately so, too, did one or two of the choirboys! I should have told them off, but I couldn't bring myself to be that hypocritical. The vicar eventually put a rather public end to it all one Sunday when he spotted the mass exodus!

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At one church I used to disappear outside for a smoke during the sermon. Unfortunately so, too, did one or two of the choirboys! I should have told them off, but I couldn't bring myself to be that hypocritical. The vicar eventually put a rather public end to it all one Sunday when he spotted the mass exodus!

 

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

 

 

A.S.H. Wednesday would have been better.

 

MM

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Hi

 

This is all very humerous - but what does it say about the organists' professionalism, involvement in the worship of the church, and general attitude. We're quick enough to complain about noise during voluntaries and lack of support and interest in church music - but are some organists really any better than the clergy they complain about?

 

I can be blunt too!

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

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