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The Forth in Praise Organists' Blog

The personal views of a Catholic parish organist

April 16, 2014

Holy Week is crisis time!

evelyn @ 8:50 pm

No matter how you try to pace things, there’s always some crisis comes up behind you and gives you a wallop during Holy Week. If you’re an organist, that is. Everyone else serenely takes advantage of the chance for prayer and quiet meditation. But not organists. Or choirs. Or cantors. And priests probably get pretty harassed, too. The number of downloads of the Forth in Praise Exsultet in staff notation has been phenomenal this year. The Litany of the Saints has been busy, too (find them here if you’re interested).

Yesterday, I came home from the final choir practice and said, foolishly, ‘Well that’s the worst over. All I have to do now is play the organ for the rest of the week’. Saying things like that is asking for trouble.

First, my organ practice session was cut short because an email concerning the choir needed to be attended to urgently (moral: switch your phone off when practising). Then the cantor for Holy Thursday (tomorrow!) went down with a bug, and I’ve spent the day scanning music and creating MP3 files for her stand-in, with whom I’ll have to practise this evening after the ecumenical service, instead of socialising in the hall. In addition, I’ve just realised that I’ve overlooked the extra practice needed with two of the Vigil cantors who are doing a special psalm. Not sure how that can be fitted in now. No doubt these won’t be the only problems …

Still, I shouldn’t complain really. This is my first organ-playing Holy Week for three years. In 2012 I prepared the choir during Lent, but then went to Australia for Easter, and last year I was on crutches and wishing I could play. So I’d better just get on with it, and be thankful.

Happy Easter, everyone, when it comes!

5 Comments »

  1. Happy Easter, Evelyn! There is really nothing like being a church organist on Easter, is there? (both good and bad). I’ve just been getting over a cold, too. I’ve been sucking zinc tablets all week (but no Benadryl on the organ! That was pretty funny.)

    Comment by Michael — April 20, 2014 @ 9:46 pm

  2. Happy Easter to you, too, Michael. Our biggest service is the Saturday evening Vigil Mass, and as it was due to start another cantor got the throat bug and asked for her psalm to be transposed down a tone. Aargh! was my first reaction. No handy little transposing knobs on my pipe organ. In the end I discarded the music and busked the thing in the lower key. But other bits went surprisingly well. As you say, there’s nothing quite like being an organist at Easter.

    Comment by evelyn — April 20, 2014 @ 10:08 pm

  3. Oh my. It looks like we’ll be getting our organ console digitized this year (there have been electronic connections from the keys to the pipes that have given us problems for at least a decade) and part of the package allows for transposition. Not sure I want this–I still remember about twenty years ago at another church when I reached for a piston change between verses of a hymn and missed, hitting the transposition button instead! Being the one on the far end it took the whole thing down four keys. It took me a couple of bars to figure out what was going on and transpose back up a fourth to compensate. After the service the pastor suggested I not do that unusual thing I did on the hymn at the next service (wasn’t planning to, pastor!) On the other hand, I guess a transposition button could make things a bit easier if, say, your soloist brings in a copy of a piece in a different key than you know it and asked that you transpose it to a third key, at 8 in the morning! (that was a bit of an adventure one morning a couple of years ago). Is your organ mechanical action?

    Comment by Michael — April 21, 2014 @ 2:33 pm

  4. That sounds to have been quite a surreal experience. Maybe people just thought you were running out of wind! Our small organ has a transposing facility, but I can never get used to these things (see previous blog posts here and here). The pipe organ is is not really big enough for gadgetry, and is besides a heritage instrument which they won’t want to mess around with, but the proposal for digitising yours sounds really good. Best of luck with it!

    Comment by evelyn — April 22, 2014 @ 10:47 am

  5. … and yes the organ is mechanical. Tracker action.

    Comment by evelyn — April 22, 2014 @ 10:49 am

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