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The Forth in Praise Organists' Blog

The personal views of a Catholic parish organist

November 15, 2010

The Anytoun Old Kirk emails (1)

evelyn @ 1:34 pm

It was summer, and both minister and organist of Anytoun Old Kirk were due to be absent for the same three consecutive weeks.  A different stand-in minister was lined up for each of the three Sundays.  The organist who was to deputise for the whole period (me!) was RC and unfamiliar with Church of Scotland music and procedures.  The fact that the choir was SATB meant I would have to play exactly what was on the music in front of me; I couldn’t merrily busk my way out of tricky harmonies or passing notes, as is my wont.  This was why I definitely needed to know the hymns well in advance (hence my pestering of the stand-in ministers earlier in the week than they might have expected).

So let the emails – which are genuine, I assure you – tell the story.  All names, including that of the church, have been changed.  Except for mine, of course.


Saturday 10 June          Andrew [the Anytoun Old regular organist] to Evelyn

Just checking!

You are playing at Anytoun Old on July 16, 23 and 30. Services at




Tuesday 4 July           Andrew to Evelyn

The ministers’ contact details are as follows:

July 16th: Carlos [surname and phone number]

July 23rd: George [surname and phone number]

July 30th: Leonard [surname and phone number]

Carlos is Latin American, and a bit of a loose cannon. He’s the one who talked over my offering voluntary (I think I told you!).
George is SUPERB – he is really funny and very perceptive.
Don’t know Leonard at all.

Good luck!



Tuesday 11 July           Evelyn to Andrew

I’m having fun with your scatty Latin American minister! He didn’t think he was taking the service on Sunday, and wanted to get in touch with YOU to check! I said that YOU had told ME, therefore we already knew what you thought. Oh well, he’d phone ‘Henry’ and get back to me. Don’t know who Henry is.

‘Henry is in Thailand’ he tells me on phoning back. So he’ll give me hymns, but someone else might turn up with a different list! I said politely that that wasn’t really acceptable, and could he investigate further. I really needed to know.

I phoned Keith [the beadle] today to check access for practice tomorrow and relayed this discussion. He said it IS our Latin American friend, and he will contact him and ensure that he is lined up.

This evening Carlos (we’re on first-name terms now) phoned yet again to say yes, it IS he who is taking the service on Sunday, and gave me a list of reasonable hymns, three of them out of what he called ‘Songs of God’, which I presume is Songs of God’s People. One was a children’s hymn, and I asked if the children would be processing out of the church [which usually needs a bit of music to cover]. ‘Well yes, possibly … (pause) … actually, I don’t know if the children are ever IN the church. I think they are somewhere else for a long time …’

Remembering your voluntary problem, I said, ‘Will you want me to play a voluntary while the collection is being taken up?’ ‘What’s a voluntary?’ he asked, interestedly. I explained carefully. ‘I never knew that’ he said, ‘although my family is musical and my daughter plays the piano’.

Sunday should be fun! Improvisation (and not just musical) is obviously called for …

Best wishes



There was no reply to this email.  Andrew had already left.

To be continued …

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