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The Forth in Praise Organists' Blog

The personal views of a Catholic parish organist

August 24, 2011

Out and about (4)

evelyn @ 3:53 pm

For our next venture into churches unknown, we went even further west, ‘doon the watter’ to the church in Inverclyde where one of my oldest friends is cantor. We were planning to hear her sing, then whisk her off to talk over old times at some nice lunch place. All was arranged in advance, but a few days beforehand she phoned to say that oh dear, there wouldn’t be an organist on that particular Sunday …

Well, the inevitable happened. Then, having spur-of-the-moment volunteered, I began to panic big-time. Unknown church. Unknown organ. Begged friend to dash into the church with a camera and email me pics of the organ. These revealed it to be a three-decker, but stops looked reasonable enough.

On the Sunday, then, we found ourselves in a lovely big church with a spacious west gallery. The organ, a Makin, turned out to be one of the best-natured I’ve ever played. Stops sounded just as their labels suggested, crescendo pedal had been disabled (excellent judgment!). No nasty surprises at all, provided I kept muttering my three-manual mantra (great-is-in-the-middle, great-is-in-the-middle).

Quite a bit of the music was new to me, including a very jolly locally-composed Alleluia. It wasn’t so easy to notice liturgical nuances as it would have been from the pews, but I did realise there was a significant use of silence. Even the collection was taken up without any accompanying music. Silences are going to be an important feature when the new translation comes in. Or so I’ve heard.

There was no way of knowing how the organ sounded down below and, as with most churches, no-one said anything about it afterwards. This can often mean that things have worked OK and aren’t worth mentioning, but there is also the gnawing possibility that untold criticism is being politely concealed.

Certainly, there was one unfortunate moment, and regrettably it involved my long-suffering friend and cantor. She asked me to lower the pitch for her psalm, to suit her contralto voice. Makin have a rather complicated way of doing this but fortunately, I’d done it before elsewhere and knew how it worked. I reassured her about this, but when the time came – horrors! – I FORGOT! I’m not sure if she has forgiven me yet.

But we did have our nice chat later on, at a pleasant hostelry in Inverkip, so maybe she has.


  1. ‘Twas a good day! You coped splendidly – of course! Glad you liked the organ, after all our angst at doing away with its pipe predecessor. BTW Our “west gallery” is actually in the east. Also – the correct term (as I have frequently reminded you) is “long-standing friend”!

    Comment by Oldest friend! — September 6, 2011 @ 6:01 pm

  2. Well, you see, I thought it was a way of not identifying your back-to-front church, O longest-standing of my friends!

    Comment by evelyn — September 11, 2011 @ 10:51 pm

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