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The Forth in Praise Organists' Blog

The personal views of a Catholic parish organist

August 11, 2020

Distracted times (again)

evelyn @ 4:38 pm

‘You’re the organist, aren’t you’, said the elderly lady in the church porch.  Considering that I was wearing a mask and my hair was down to my shoulders, I was surprised that she recognised me, unless she had merely registered my formal funeral outfit and briefcase.

Her next words took a weight off my mind.  ‘I’m so pleased there will be some music,’ she said, ‘even though we’re not allowed to sing.  It will make all the difference’. I was relieved because I had been feeling a bit inadequate, being engaged as organist, but forbidden to play any hymns, psalms or parts of the Requiem Mass.  Quiet music as people came in, something at Communion and a tune of their choosing as the coffin was taken out, was all that was permitted, and I did my best.

This had been my first funeral since lockdown.  At first, church services weren’t allowed at all.  Then they were, but limited to ten family members, and latterly to twenty.  This particular funeral would in normal times have been a big one, with the church full.  As it was, quite a crowd had gathered outside, no doubt intending to form the cortège to the graveside.

Afterwards, I didn’t follow my usual custom of joining other parishioners in the car park to pay my respects as the hearse left.  Instead, because of the numbers, I stayed in the gallery, peering through the clear bits of the stained-glass window, watching the vehicles move off.  As I expected, there were many more cars than the small congregation had warranted.

I had planned to have a practice then, but when the high-vis jackets with their mops and disinfectant turned up, I felt sad and just went home.

I’ve been a funeral organist for decades, and on the whole I have found it an uplifting experience, which I suppose is to be expected in a Christian setting.  Not on this occasion, sadly.  But if a bit of consoling music helped some people, then that is what matters.

Oh, these distracted times.


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