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The Forth in Praise Organists' Blog

The personal views of a Catholic parish organist

December 31, 2009

Christmas just past …

evelyn @ 4:22 pm

‘Peter has got an A!’ said his wife Pat at the last choir practice before Christmas.  As Peter is a retired gentleman, I assumed he’d been going in for a bit of extra education, as a lot of us third-agers do.  But then I saw what he was holding up for us all to inspect: a most professional letter ‘A’, just the same size as the hymn board numbers, and looking as if made out of the same white-on-black plastic.

We’ve had a lot of new happenings in the parish in 2009, among them our new priest, new timing of the Christmas Mass (10pm instead of midnight), and – new hymnbooks.  We switched to Decani Music’s Laudate with the arrival of the present PP in June.  It’s far better than Mayhew’s Hymns Old and New, which we’ve had for donkey’s ages, especially for the organist (I don’t think I ever used the HON accompaniments; busking produced a much better result).  But no hymnal is perfect, and Laudate has its problems.  For one thing, the organ copy is in two heavy volumes, which means that split-second timing has to be more carefully planned, and a physically strong organist is required.  Then we discovered when we got our Christmas music together that ‘O come all ye faithful’ is no. 159 and ‘Adeste fideles’ is no. 159a.

I do wish hymnbook compilers wouldn’t do this (and it isn’t only Laudate).  Why can’t they simply give it the next number?  Our hymn board is three digits wide, and our numbers, with plenty of spares, run from 0 to 9.  We’ve had it for decades, it looks good and has served us well.  This requirement for a solitary extra ‘a’ was a real nuisance. No doubt hymn boards have moved on, and we are now expected to think that this is the moment to ‘upgrade’ to some fancy and costly version which has numbers going into the thousands, or includes alphabets, or caters for hexadecimal numbering of hymns.

Not us.  The immediate problem has now been solved by Peter, who has used his DIY expertise to produce this really creditable ‘A’, thin enough to fit into the margin of the hymn board and yet easily readable.   A small victory for individual human ingenuity, I thought to myself as ‘Adeste’ rang through the rafters on Christmas Eve.

Thank you, Peter, and a Happy New Year to everyone!

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