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The Forth in Praise Organists' Blog

The personal views of a Catholic parish organist

October 25, 2011

If at first you don’t succeed …

evelyn @ 12:50 pm

We started with the revised Bellahouston Gloria (1982 version). The reasoning was: they know the refrain, they know the chant melody. All (all!) they have to do is fit the new words to the existing chant.

‘They’ of course are the congregation. Now that we are in the no-man’s-land of the run-up to Advent, congregations have a lot of new stuff to learn. And they’re all busy people who can’t or won’t hang around for practices. Nevertheless, they’ve got to do it, willy-nilly. There’s no getting out of this one, unless your parish has no music, or sings only hymns.

So – week 1. Off we went. I positively pounded out the chant, in a manner of speaking, as of course you can’t actually pound anything on an organ. What I did was some sharpish staccato with most of the the stops out. The organ sounded like a blacksmith’s shop.

The congregation was all over the place, musically speaking. Priest sang along looking worried. Comparing notes afterwards, we decided it wasn’t too good, but we’d try again next week.

Week 2. We did exactly the same, but the congregation was more together.

Week 3 was better still. I left off pounding.

Week 4. They knew it! Priest delighted. ‘Next week, the MacMillan Bellahouston Gloria’ he announced.

Tomorrow, the world.


  1. Re self starting blog – Half term this week – our congregation was nearly half the usual number – no deacon, no cantor; had a quick word with the PP and we decided to abandon Mass setting, only trouble was the organist had to be ‘self starting’ with regard to leading the responses!!!! (the parts usually sung) Tince there was no one else to do it.

    The word is out that our congregation are getting tired of the ‘plainchant type’ setting we have done for the past 6 weeks – so will they stay behind next week to have a go at learning the upbeat Christopher Walker’s St Paul’s Mass setting? and will I manage to hit the right notes, at the right speed and in the right timing on the day and above all will they like it!! The Liturgy Committee want it ready for Christmas.

    Comment by Gill Hogarth — October 25, 2011 @ 6:58 pm

  2. Sounds as if you are having a pretty hectic time, Gill. I think for organists it will get worse before it gets better – we are landed with making all this new stuff work.
    Christmas is a different matter, though. After being snowbound last year, I’m planning something nice and easy. Watch this space …

    Comment by evelyn — October 25, 2011 @ 7:58 pm

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