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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

August 4, 2012

And also with your spirit

evelyn @ 1:16 pm

I have to admit that I’m not a great weekday Mass-goer, but occasionally I do turn up. The custom in my church during the week is for the small congregation to sing an opening hymn and some parts of the Mass, unaccompanied. When I go, I tend to lurk at the back. I wouldn’t dream of playing the organ – that would be a bit of a cheek from someone who is hardly ever there. However, in spite of all my efforts, I do attract unwelcome attention, and for quite another reason.

On busy Sundays, in this time of liturgical change, the organist’s antennae are at full stretch. Getting the unfamiliar notes right and in time, leading the large congregation in one new melody after another, pounding out (sorry, articulating) chant syllables to help those unused to them – with all this going on, the actual spoken words and their changes have tended to take a back seat. Quite unconsciously, I’ve viewed them as ‘not my department’.

The result is that I haven’t absorbed the new Mass responses, while everyone else has. Alone in the gallery on Sundays, I still stumble over the new words, and mentally promise to do better next time – but at least no one is there to hear. In the hush of a weekday Mass, however, when the voices of the thirty or so people can be easily distinguished in the excellent acoustic of the building, my gaffes echo loud and clear.

  • ‘The Lord be with you.’
  • (everyone else) ‘And with your spirit’.
  •        (me) ‘And also – er – with your spirit’ (distinct chortle from friend further along the row)

What makes it worse is that in some cases the new responses are shorter than the old ones. Thus:

  • (everyone else) ‘It is right and just,’
  •        (me)          ‘It is right to give (now going solo) you thanks and praise. Oops.

Have other organists found this, I wonder? And what is the remedy? In my case, I should perhaps go more often to church during the week. But if I start going regularly, they’ll probably ask me to play the organ, and we’ll be back to square one …


  1. And I thought I was the only one!!

    Comment by Elvira — August 7, 2012 @ 9:07 pm

  2. One or two people have made that remark, Elvira. It gives me hope!

    Comment by evelyn — August 8, 2012 @ 6:54 pm

  3. Interesting,I thought no one else had this problem. I have a copy (enlarged) of the responses at the edge of the hymn book support, but I still tend to revert to the old words. An age thing maybe!

    Comment by Maureen Arthur — August 18, 2012 @ 10:20 pm

  4. I thought I was the only one. I have most of them correct, but some old ones, I just like better.

    Comment by tommy becnel — August 21, 2012 @ 2:23 pm

  5. Maureen and Tommy: Another two who have the same problem! I bet there are millions of us. Thanks for comments – very heartening.

    Comment by evelyn — August 21, 2012 @ 3:11 pm

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