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The Forth in Praise Organists' Blog

The personal views of a Catholic parish organist

August 24, 2020

The Communion problem

evelyn @ 5:39 pm

It wasn’t working.  I’d already realised that, I think, but it was confirmed by our priest, whom I encountered as I sneaked into church on Friday for a practice (I say ‘sneaked’ because I’m never sure what’s legal and what isn’t these days).  He was happy enough about voluntaries before the start of Mass, but the other organ spot at Communion was not so good.

‘Communion is over too quickly’, said Father, ‘and there’s no-one left to listen to you’.  It was true. Twenty or so people receive Communion and are out of the side door and into the car park in a matter of seconds, leaving me serenading the mop and disinfectant brigade.  But our priest is anxious that there should be some music at Mass, even though singing is forbidden, so his new suggestion was that I should provide background music for part of the Mass instead of Communion.  I was to start at the beginning of the Our Father and carry on until the end of the Agnus Dei.

Now this was something completely new, and very interesting.  It would have to be improvised, of course, but it does give the organ a chance to take part in the liturgy itself and not just be an accompaniment to hymns and Mass parts.

So I tried it, and it seemed to work.  The lovely 8’ flute on the Swell was perfect for the job, and faded out nicely at ‘grant us peace’.  Ironically, Communion took quite a bit longer this time as more people had turned up, but I didn’t play.

The verdict from priest and people was favourable, and I’ve been asked to take it further.  Next Sunday I’ve to continue playing until Communion is under way.  That still gives me plenty of time to go downstairs and join the socially-distanced queue myself.  Although, as I said to Father, I’d rather the ushers didn’t turf me out into the car park along with the rest.  An organist always has to go back and tidy up.


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