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For years we managed with Merbecke, the Addington Serice plus Dom Gregory Murray's setting of the Mass. After a long interregnum a new man arrived and brought with him Patrick Appleford's setting plus a request that we use it. I know what I think but I would be interested in the thoughts of fellow organists.

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Merbecke, I think, is beautiful and, just because it was written in 1550 doesn't mean that it isn't still appropriate. I've used it on the, very rare, occasions I have worked in the C of E. I find Dom Gregory Murray wearing, especially if you use all of it at once! I get fed up of hearing the same phrases over and over again. Is the Appleford a re-write of the Mass of Five Melodies? - in which case I suspect, and I don't know it, that it could, easily, become, like Dom Gregory, a little wearing!

And your new Parish Priest? is it a request or a demand?  There is a lot of good stuff out there (and a lot of drivel as well!) and it is worth buying some single copies and trying to educate your Priest with them? He may, very well, be wanting to use Appleford because it is all he knows!

Have you thought of writing your own? I had a request, a few years ago, from a Parish in the West Midlands to write a setting "similar to Dom Gregory Murray" - in other words based on repeated phrases. I produced three settings, one major, one minor and the other modal which the parish use on alternative months, I think, with the one setting sans Gloria for use during Lent and Advent. Tell me I'm being arrogant, if you like, but I think what I produced was a good deal more musical that Dom Gregory!

Do Parishes sing the same Mass setting week after week? I couldn't cope with that! Don't the congregation get bored with the same music week after week? I would!!

 

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I'm an organist turned PP, now retired - just. One of my last churches (I had three) used Murray mainly, with unaccompanied Merbecke in Advent/Lent. Everything was sung except the creed - we didn't always have it anyway). In the absence of a choir and regain organist, and with fewer than 30 in the regular congregation in a huge Anglocatholic barn in an increasing Muslim area, it was fine - realistic. Merbecke worked because of the musical priest (me!) who set the pitch. I suggest you meet the new PP on neutral ground, say you're interested in developing the music, and start a discussion. Appleford is doubtess what was used when he was young and the C of E thought it mattered. It's dreadful, but it wouldn't be helpful to say so - not yet. Remember in all this that according to the Canons of the C of E the priest has all the power: you have none whatsoever.

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Indeed, and it’s worth reminding ourselves - so far as the C of E is concerned - from Canon B 20:

       2. Where there is an organist, choirmaster or director of music the minister shall pay due heed to his advice and assistance in the choosing of chants, hymns, anthems, and other settings, and in the ordering of the music of the church; but at all times the final responsibility and decision in these matters rests with the minister.

       3. It is the duty of the minister to ensure that only such chants, hymns, anthems, and other settings are chosen as are appropriate, both the words and the music, to the solemn act of worship and prayer in the House of God as well as to the congregation assembled for that purpose; and to banish all irreverence in the practice and in the performance of the same.

I’m not sure that either of these provisions is always observed in practice!  There is certainly scope for differences of opinion about Canon B 20 3!  I ‘serve’ in a church where the priest tends to delegate musical matters to the churchwardens  ...  It calls for some diplomacy on the organist’s part at times!

 

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Rowland is right. A sensible priest will delegate, having set some boundaries. Unfortunately many priests, esp young ones, are illiterate musically, illiterate liturgically. and utterly self-opinionated in that they, and only they, know the mid of God. It's useful to deflect a disagreement between organist and priest by asking "what is reasonable for the congregation?" (not so much the choir which can be an agent of Satan). Good luck. 

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We have a 'stable' of about 6 or 8 settings we use and we change once or twice a year. The congregation have frequently commented they don't want the same one all the time and I find the wider the range I offer them, the wider their tastes become! Personally, I find Appleford a bit dated but there are many, many service settings around in all sorts of styles and many are very good. I'm no composer but I still managed a setting based on a couple of hymn tunes which they seem to like.

I've been very lucky with clergy in my 30 years at this church. We've got through about 8 but all have been supportive, interested and happy to leave the music to me!

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Thank you Colin. I used to be a member, then left when I was spending too much time here. I'm retired now. Steve Goodwin has the ideal cleric. I would like to think I was too! In another of my churches - the civic church - the very competent organist had my total confidence and I let him at it. I suggested hymns, but that's all - a good sing beginning, middle and end, and offertory long enough to cover the action. Lots of Wesley. At risk of going off topic, musicians need to engage clergy constructively with RSCM and RCO involvement (as, I think, they do). Start early in the theological training institutions. Unfortunately, the term "organist" for many clergy conjures up terrorist, and doubtless vice versa. Another problem that has to be confronted is that many young clerics think musically, if at all, in terms of (to me risible) quasi-erotic love songs to Jesus. Loving Jesus is all very well, but it won't help you deal with the administrative nonsense of the institutional church. Don't get me going. Finally, as the  great Margo Leadbetter of The Good Life said, "yuletide felicitations" to you all.

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19 hours ago, Stanley Monkhouse said:

Unfortunately, the term "organist" for many clergy conjures up terrorist, and doubtless vice versa. 

Finally, as the  great Margo Leadbetter of The Good Life said, "yuletide felicitations" to you all.

At the risk of boring everyone but as a memory of a story told by the late David Drinkell, who, I'm sure we all miss on the boards, I give the much repeated story. 

'The difference between an organist and a terrorist - you can negotiate with a terrorist!!!'

And, from a tiny little village in the South West of France,  'Yuletide felicitations' to you Stanley and to all members of the board.

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On 30/12/2019 at 06:06, S_L said:

At the risk of boring everyone but as a memory of a story told by the late David Drinkell, who, I'm sure we all miss on the boards, I give the much repeated story. 

'The difference between an organist and a terrorist - you can negotiate with a terrorist!!!'

I've probably told that story once too often to my lovely vicar. As for defining "irreverence", I claim sole responsibility for introducing a song by a Christian, Canadian, Freddie Mercury tribute band during our Lessons and Carols service last week. (For the record, it's called "How many kings" by Downhere, is easily found on Google and has beautiful words and a tune you won't be able to get out of your head). Of course we also had a choir, children's brass band and sang music from a wide range of centuries. And I reminded myself that if Stephen Cleobury considered it worthwhile to have a new piece of music introduced each year at the Kings Cambridge carol service, why shouldn't I? Besides, one of the members of the original Freddie Mercury band Queen, Brain May is himself an organist so maybe the connection isn't quite as tenuous as it might at first seem.

I appreciate that some vicars would consider it several steps too far to sing Jerusalem in a service, however well we're doing at the World Cup at the time. But up and down the country every week churches sing Stuart Townend's wonderful hymn "In Christ alone" - which of course fits Parry's famous hymn's meter perfectly.

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