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The Forth in Praise Organists' Blog

The personal views of a Catholic parish organist



August 1, 2010

The longest day

evelyn @ 6:56 pm

I said I was going to get back to normal blogging, but just one more word about the Papal visit. The organisers’ website has now given details of the timetable and a list of the music for 16 September. You can read the list here .

What has struck me about this music list is the sheer quantity of the stuff, 39 items in all, 35 of which are sung. To accommodate this massive programme, singing starts at 11.30 am, and as far as I can tell, continues, no doubt with pauses here and there for eating and other necessities, until 7.30 pm when the whole thing ends. If I’ve got it right, rehearsals of choir and congregation start in the morning and run until 4.00 pm, at which point singing for the ceremony proper will start, although Mass itself doesn’t begin until 5.15. Throat sweets and bottles of water will be a necessity, and not only for the choir.

Is this incredibly vast amount of singing always a tradition when the Pope visits a country? I’ve been trying to think back to 1982. All I can remember is that it was a very hot day, and I wanted to sit in the sun and watch Bellahouston at the same time. So I carried our portable black-and-white TV out into the garden on the end of a long cable, and put on headphones so as not to annoy the neighbours. Of course, it was impossible to watch a TV screen in the sun, as I soon found out. Possibly I chose the sun over the Pope for a lot of the time, because my main memory (having taken the telly back inside) is of priests going up and down under parasols distributing Communion. There was a lot of singing, but I can’t remember a single thing that was sung. It was only later that I came to know the Bellahouston Gloria, Sanctus and Agnus Dei, when they became popular on Sundays. As an organist, I came to know them very well indeed.

This time, though, it will be different. I’ll definitely be on the watch, and if there is sunshine on 16 September, it won’t be allowed to get in the way. The one thing I don’t want to miss is the MacMillan Mass, even if it does take an hour and a half and seventeen music items to get to it. I’m familiar with it already, of course (having done all those MP3 files on the Singing the Mass page), and I’ll be absolutely delighted if it follows the pattern of its predecessor and reaches the Sunday congregations.

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