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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

June 28, 2018

Running late

evelyn @ 4:42 pm

I thought I had a good five minutes.

With ten minutes or so to go, the cantor upstairs was getting restive, presumably because he could hear me gossiping in the church porch. He’s just being a fuss-pot, I decided as I climbed the gallery stairs. Because he seemed so anxious, I went straight to the organ without changing shoes or digging out organ glasses. I got out the psalm, and we ran through it quietly a couple of times. It seemed fine. Cantor hurried off downstairs and I began preparing for the start of Mass. As I said, I thought I had a good five minutes.

Getting things in place before Mass is a bit of a ritual: find hymn books and missal, put shoes on, glasses on the console, psalm, newsletter, Mass sheet and other bits and pieces on the music rest. Then climb on to my ‘organ chair’, specially created to help while I recover from my back injury, and open hymn book at first hymn. It sounds a lot, but it actually only takes two or three minutes. Then I improvise on the quietest flute until the bell tells me to go straight into the entrance hymn.

This time the bell went as I was doing up the buckle of the second organ shoe.

What on earth?? I thought, plus a few other things which one shouldn’t think in church. I staggered over to the special chair. This takes a little time to install oneself in. There are two steps up, and you have to sit sideways first then use a lever to swivel round.

‘The first hymn is number 846’ announces the priest, obviously not too pleased at the delay. The congregation dutifully stand and wait.

By this time, I am in the chair and frantically leafing through the hymn book, peering through my bifocals as I look for 846 (haven’t a clue where the organ glasses have got to).

‘Number 846’ repeats the priest, with a hint of menace this time.

‘OK, I’ve got it!’ I shout irritably (Oops! Did he hear that, I wonder?) as I launch into ‘Amazing Grace’.

‘What happened?’ he asked afterwards, reasonably amiably. I told him my clock must have been slow, but I knew it wasn’t really that. I never did work out how I could have timed things so badly that day. Was I just being over-confident? Do I need a holiday? Or is the forgetfulness of old age at last setting in? I can’t say I like that idea. Or did time become elastic, as with Einstein relativity? Now I do like that idea.

Anyway, it hasn’t happened since.

1 Comment

  1. Could only happen an organist!

    Comment by Maeve — July 11, 2018 @ 8:18 pm

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