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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

April 3, 2018

An Easter Crisis!

evelyn @ 3:58 pm


We were halfway through the Litany of the Saints at the Easter Vigil when I realised I had omitted an important duty. The dreadful question loomed in my mind: Were the correct numbers on the hymn board? As soon as I could, I flipped my organ glasses to long-distance and with great trepidation looked at the board. Horrors! The Good Friday numbers were still there.

Why, oh why, did I forget to check the board before things started? Stress, probably, at the end of an exhausting Holy Week. Still, it was my responsibility – mea maxima culpa – and what could be done about it now?

At the Vigil the congregational hymns don’t really get going until Communion, so there was still a chance. I clambered out of my organ chair for a quick word with the altos. Could someone possibly change the numbers when the choir goes down to Communion? One of them pointed out that the box of numbers was not visible, so must be in the vestry. However, God bless them, two of them agreed to take it on, one to start fixing the board from the numbers already there, while the other would unobtrusively collect the box from the vestry. The hope was that all this would pass unnoticed in the general movement of people at Communion time.

Anxiously I watched from the gallery, not wanting to start the Communion hymn (no. 270) until the number appeared on the board, which had now become blank. Suddenly I recognised an arm in a blue sleeve which put up a 2 and then a 7. Where’s the zero? I thought. Of course, it must be in the box. Should I start? No sign of a zero yet – doubtless the second helper was still edging her box past the now enormous Communion queue. I started anyway, and when I looked up at the end of the first verse the numbers were all in place, and the choir returning in triumph.

There were varied reactions from the congregation at the different stages of this rescue operation. They ranged from:

Very mournful hymns for the Easter Vigil, I must say.


Oops! Just found it in the hymn book, and now the board’s gone blank.


‘Christ is alive’. Ah, now that’s better than Stabat Mater.


Thank you, kind altos. Isn’t our choir wonderful!


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