Back from Orkney now. Lovely as usual. I always enjoy our visits there. This visit included two Sundays, on which I went to the church of Our Lady & St Joseph in Kirkwall.
I wasn’t sure if I would make it to Mass on the first Sunday because the car was needed by my husband for his Science Festival commitment, but happily I was offered a lift by parishioner Ben, who has recently had a book about liturgical music published by the Catholic Truth Society, and who runs a schola cantorum which sings from time to time in Orkney’s famous Italian Chapel.
Definitely I must attend one of these occasions on my next visit.
On the second Sunday I had a chat with Michael, the organist. He does wonders with a fairly limited keyboard, the organ having been a casualty of severe flooding some time ago. His playing included some nice eighteenth-century voluntaries, and a nifty bit of modern-style improvisation at Communion. You always know that your improvisation has been successful if someone comes up and asks what the name of that piece was, as I did with Michael. Improvisation (or busking, if you are being modest) is so useful in Catholic liturgy; you are never at a loss for something to play in these odd moments which seem to need it.
I do hope they manage to replace the organ soon. It is a beautiful little church with such a good acoustic that they don’t use microphones. The smallest of electronic organs would suffice, without any amplification. Perhaps on my next visit Michael’s improvisation will include flutes, string stops and even the odd reed …
It’s funny, though. There’s still no getting away from Australia. ‘We’ll be starting to learn a new Mass soon’ said Michael, ‘the Mass of St Francis’.