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Forth in Praise

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The Forth in Praise Organists' Blog

The personal views of a Catholic parish organist

July 20, 2012

Organwear (1): Shoes

evelyn @ 8:18 pm

My first organ footwear was a comfortable but revoltingly scruffy old pair of walking shoes. Although they were fine for pedalling, I was too embarrassed to wear them on my solitary trek down the aisle at the beginning of Communion, always a bit of a catwalk for the gallery organist, but necessary if the Communion music is to be started reasonably quickly. So – O vanity! – I would change shoes before and after Communion rather than display my horrible organ shoes to the world at large.

Then I found out about Organmaster shoes (above). This isn’t meant to be an advert, but so far as I know, they are the only dedicated organ shoes on the market. I had to send to America for my first and second pairs, but now they are distributed in the UK by Allegro Music. They do all that is needed, with wide heels and nice thin slippy soles, but most importantly, they look good, which for female organists in church on Sunday really matters. There’s a version for men, too, of course.

I have become so used to them that I never give the catwalk a thought any more. However, this feeling of security can be dangerous. Some years ago, I was giving an organ talk in the Highlands on a Saturday, which meant an overnight stay. I was unexpectedly asked if I would play for Mass the following morning, as the usual organist was away. Having rashly agreed, I realised I had no organ glasses, no organ music and no organ shoes. I decided it didn’t matter – I would peer at the hymn book over my bifocals for once and busk the voluntaries, while my slippers would do for the pedals if I took things carefully.

The organ was at the front, on one side of the raised sanctuary, and the custom was for the organist to receive Communion first. To my relief, everything went splendidly. The organ was easy to play, the singing responsive, and the Communion procedure no problem at all. It was only as I cheerfully prepared to play the hymn following Communion that it dawned on me that I had just paraded my bright pink, fluffy, pom-pom bedroom slippers right across the sanctuary and back again in full view of the completely unknown clergy and congregation.    Blush.

Oh well, I don’t have to go back there again.


  1. Too funny! My shoes have come apart recently so I’m about to go find out whether the superglue really did the trick or if I’m going to have to spring for new ones.

    By the way, a wedding this weekend, but not much to report–other than the really long pause while the pastor was trying to get the ring disconnected from the pillow. Naturally the bride chose to employ a couple of really cute little kids as ring bearers which meant they were busy at the rehearsal flinging the pillows all around and somebody must have decided to tie the rings on them really tightly for the ceremony so they didn’t end up in Timbuktu. I have to say, though, I’ve never seen such patience as the littlest child showed while waiting for the ring to be untied–probably the only time I’ve ever seen one that young behave that well at a wedding, and a complete change from the day before!

    Comment by Michael — July 25, 2012 @ 2:07 pm

  2. Interesting! I’m not sure if we go in for pillows and ring-bearers very much here. But then I’m right at the other end of the church, and probably miss most of the best bits!

    Comment by evelyn — July 26, 2012 @ 7:41 pm

  3. Lucky you! Ours are usually much to young to walk down the aisle without either getting scared and refusing to go down the aisle at all (keep playing bridesmaid processional music, looking at preacher until he nods that the ring bearer isn’t coming so it’s best to go on to the music for the bride) or gets half way down the aisle and turns around and runs back screaming. Last week we had some unusually behaved children, but this weekend the youngest child wouldn’t go and one of the ushers tried to carry him to the front of the aisle to get him started which was a bad idea. He threw a fit. Of course, the congregation thinks its cute anyway, so I doubt we’ll ever be free of the custom. I rather wish ring bearers had to be at least six years old to participate, but it isn’t up to me.

    Comment by Michael — July 30, 2012 @ 8:15 pm

  4. Michael, you seem to have a mad wedding every week! I don’t think I could cope with that.

    Comment by evelyn — August 2, 2012 @ 8:51 pm

  5. It does seem that way, doesn’t it? Actually, they come in drips and drabs and right now we are are the start of rather a lot of them. In fact, given that last week I both got calls from brides who were just contacting me for the first time about weddings a week or two in the future and also from brides who are getting married next spring and want everything just so right now, it did feel a bit like I had brides coming out of my ears!

    Comment by Michael — August 4, 2012 @ 9:38 pm

  6. A good few years I was the organist & choirmaster at a lovely medieval Anglican church in Gloucestershire. In the week after Christmas there was a funeral and the church was quite full. After the first hymn the vicar launched into a eulogy about the deceased but I was distracted by a tinny-sounding rendition of “Jingle Bells” which appeared to emanate from the organ’s pedalboard. I suddenly realised that I was wearing my “Christmas Socks” which had a built-in musical box (like those dreadful Christmas cards) and during my pedal work I must have activated the dreaded gadget. Fortunately the organ loft was remote from the congregation and I managed to muffle the sound with a couple of handkerchiefs. When I told the vicar what had happened he laughed and said he’d not heard anything untoward – thank goodness!

    Comment by Bruce Fletcher — November 6, 2012 @ 2:01 pm

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