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The Forth in Praise Organists' Blog

The personal views of a Catholic parish organist

March 5, 2012

Thoughtfully yours

evelyn @ 10:22 pm

We’ve just had the World Day of Prayer in our church.

When our Catholic rep on the local WDP committee gave me the Order of Service, I realised that there were two hymns, both from Mission Praise (a Church of Scotland hymn book), which our congregation just wouldn’t know. Alternatives were offered which we could have managed, but Catholic rep was over-ruled by the others, and we were stuck with what was in the booklet.

Heaving a sigh, I got out Mission Praise and looked at no. 1008, ‘The Lord’s my Shepherd’ by Stuart Townend (the alternative would have been Crimond). I’d never seen this one before, but it was in the usual singalong, slightly syncopated style that is the hallmark of Mission Praise, and I soon got the hang of it. Having made a mental note to cut out most of the passing notes for the sake of our own congregation, I then considered the tempo. At the top left of the page was written ‘Thoughtfully’. Thoughtfully! What sort of speed is that, for heaven’s sake? I swithered about demanding a metronome mark from the WDP committee, then decided just to play it as it came, and if they didn’t like it, too bad. We might even get Crimond next time.

I’ve come across this sort of ‘tempo-expression’ indication in Mission Praise before, so I spent a few minutes amusing myself by collecting a few. And I found some beauties:

• Worshipfully
• Prayerfully
• Rich and full                        (like double cream)
• Building, with strength         (makes you think of bricklayers and wheelbarrows)
• Growing in strength             (and weight-lifters)
• Easy waltz feel                    (and Strauss)

(and best of all)

• With an ‘island’ feel            (Huh?)

Of these, I think I dislike ‘Worshipfully’ and ‘Prayerfully’ most. Not only do they give no help as to tempo, but they try to dictate one’s feelings and emotions while one is singing or playing the thing. Our own Church can be guilty of this, too; I’ve been to workshops where leaders say, hand on heart, ‘This is how you should feel when singing this.’

It is so silly. Everyone knows that emotions are spontaneous, and you can’t have feelings to order. If the music is good enough to inspire uplifting spiritual emotion, then it will happen. If it isn’t, no amount of ‘prayerfully’-type instructions will help.

Anyway, I did my best with the Townend hymn, but had the definite impression that I was taking it a little too fast for those who knew it. Obviously, I wasn’t having the right kind of thoughts …


  1. Hilarious! 😀

    Comment by Anthony Stell — March 6, 2012 @ 2:46 am

  2. “With an ‘island’ feel.” Do they mean Jamaica or Orkney?!

    Comment by Ben Whitworth — March 6, 2012 @ 9:54 am

  3. Here’s a couple you missed: With joyful abandon – no. 532, Rock ‘n’ roll -no. 558. This is fun.

    Comment by Flora B — March 6, 2012 @ 12:25 pm

  4. Thanks for comments, all. Ben, that is a very good point. It could be anything from Rockall to Tasmania. Unfortunately, I didn’t make a note of the number, otherwise I might try playing it to see how it ‘felt’, island-wise. Flora, you seem more organised. Maybe you could find it again for me?

    I’ve been accused by my nearest and dearest of not being particularly diplomatic in slating Mission Praise, so I will put that right in the next post.

    Comment by evelyn — March 11, 2012 @ 4:21 pm

  5. How I related to your points about WDP . I managed to get it changed for – Gelineau’s The Lord is my shepherd. It was a joint decision at the end.

    Comment by Maureen Arthur — March 11, 2012 @ 4:39 pm

  6. Maureen, you were lucky. The Gelineau is lovely, and the C of S will have known it for some time – it’s in CH3. Maybe I should have suggested that one instead of Crimond. Anyway, we got ridden over roughshod, and I wrote the post to relieve my feelings!

    Comment by evelyn — March 11, 2012 @ 5:57 pm

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