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The Forth in Praise Organists' Blog

The personal views of a Catholic parish organist

May 31, 2019

Tales of the organ

evelyn @ 11:09 am


It is difficult to realise that it is THIRTY YEARS since our wonderful Hill pipe organ was installed in the church gallery. I remember the circumstances very clearly.

Father James Ferrari, who sadly died not long after his retirement in 2000, had become our parish priest in 1986. He was very interested in church fabric and had seen instantly that the Pugin architecture and first-class acoustic of our church simply demanded a pipe organ (I was playing an unimpressive little electronic at the time). He acquired our present superb Hill from a Church of Scotland parish in Greenock, and for many months, while the money was being raised for the rebuild, I sat at my electronic in the gallery surrounded by heaps of loose organ pipes. It was very distracting, and I missed one or two important cues while dreaming of what was to be. But then gradually, bit by bit, the organ took shape even as I watched.

It was planned that it would be ready for the Confirmation visit of the then Archbishop in 1989. I was going to need a good deal of practice before the big event, but there were delays, and on the morning of Confirmation day the organ-builder was still at work. The electronic organ had already been removed and I was beginning to panic seriously.

By the evening it was finished – just – and the organ-builder pulled the stops for me as I tremblingly played my way through the Confirmation Mass.

Oh, the relief when it was over. The Archbishop’s procession had passed under the gallery and out of the main door. The church emptied as the people swarmed after him and no doubt everyone would be chatting away and taking photographs in the evening sunshine. I sat back, and those of us in the gallery shared congratulations.

Just then a young couple appeared. Their wedding was coming up on the Saturday. Could they hear their music on the new organ?

Of course! With great verve – no trembling now! – I happily bashed out Mendelssohn, until a quick look downward showed me a mitre and crozier moving below. The Archbishop had returned and was walking up the aisle in time to the Wedding March. Oops.

All that was thirty years ago. Hard to believe.

1 Comment

  1. And I remember running in and out of all the bits of organ around the gallery – it was very exciting for a 8 year old!

    Comment by Ant — June 2, 2019 @ 7:28 pm

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