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The Forth in Praise Organists' Blog

The personal views of a Catholic parish organist

May 17, 2010

Bridal chit-chat (6)

evelyn @ 12:09 pm

Bride: I would like to come down the aisle at the end to a hymn rather than just organ music. ‘Bring flowers of the rarest’ is my favourite hymn. Would that be OK?

Me: Of course. Lovely idea. The only thing is that as people follow you out, the singing might fade a bit on verses 2 and 3. But if that happens I’ll just add more stops and play it as a joyful voluntary.

So, what happens on the day?

Priest announces final hymn, ‘Bring flowers’. Couple are still facing the altar. I start.

End of verse 1.  Quick peek. Couple in same position. Hmm.

End of verse 2.  They haven’t moved. They must be planning to do it all on verse 3. Hope there’s enough music.

End of verse 3.  They are still standing there. Heaven help us, what now? I stop.

Priest gives some sort of extra blessing, turns the couple round, nods to me.   I have no music left.

You might not think that ‘Bring flowers of the rarest’ would lend itself particularly well to improvisation. But it does. You can get joyful cascading bell-like sequences and lots of bubbly semiquavers, all bouncing around over a steady 2-in-a-bar 6/8 beat (much better than the hymnals’ usual 3/4). And this was with no notice whatsoever. I have to say I was quite astonished at the improvisation potential of this old-fashioned and frequently maligned melody, and at myself for being able to take advantage of it so quickly. But I didn’t really have much choice, did I?

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