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The Forth in Praise Organists' Blog

The personal views of a Catholic parish organist

February 23, 2017

Proof of destruction

evelyn @ 3:44 pm

Publisher’s helpline person:    You must ask our Head Office for permission to copy, and if they give it, you must destroy the copies once your delayed order is received, and provide proof of destruction.

Me:     Provide proof of destruction? How do we do that?

Helpline person:     You send a photograph of the music being shredded.

It’s the old copyright problem rearing its head again. Our choir is spreading its wings a bit, and feels up to tackling a modern piece, if it isn’t too difficult. An organist colleague suggested the Benedictus from Karl Jenkins’ The Armed Man (it’s beautiful, listen to it here, or here), and lent me her copy.

I then ordered 15 copies from the publisher, Boosey & Hawkes, but the order has been delayed at their end, and their email gave no indication of when it could be expected. So I phoned and explained that we had planned to sing the piece in Holy Week, and if we couldn’t have the music by next Tuesday’s practice, we wouldn’t be able to get it ready in time. If the music didn’t come by Tuesday’s post, could we photocopy my borrowed copy and destroy the photocopies once the real ones arrived? Their answer was as above, although they helpfully suggested checking again on Friday, and they would try to rush it through.

So I’ve decided to wait until next week before phoning Head Office, and in the meantime have been pondering just what ‘proof of destruction’ means.

A single picture of a person pushing two or three photocopies of pages into a shredder doesn’t prove that every copy has been destroyed. If, for example, there are 10 photocopied pieces, each with 10 pages, then only 100 very clear identifiable photographs (50 if it is double-sided) would be complete proof of destruction. A video might give a better idea, but would be a massive file. And who has the time to watch 10-15 minutes of someone shredding paper?

What if you don’t have a shredder? I suppose you could photograph or video yourself tearing up pages and putting them in the council’s recycling bin.

If the music comes in time, I won’t have to phone Head Office, of course.  But if I do then we’ll see exactly what the proof of destruction requirement is, and I’ll let you know.

I have to say, though, that if someone shows a sense of responsibility by phoning to ask for this permission, in circumstances which are not of their making, then that person should surely be trusted to do the honourable thing afterwards, without any ‘proof’ being needed.

February 7, 2017

Bugs galore!

evelyn @ 6:22 pm

Sorry, still not functioning yet. I’ve been hit by some horrible winter bug, and was unable to enjoy our break away. Doctor hopes next set of pills will do the trick, but many of my friends are down with this thing, and it doesn’t give up the fight easily.

Then all my computers – desktop, laptop and tablet – have got bugs as well. For some reason my desktop date had changed to three weeks ahead when I got home. I didn’t spot it for a couple of hours, so a lot of my files have a future date. The tablet decided to give up completely, then suddenly righted itself, all for no apparent reason. The laptop hung on startup, which it has never done before, and I had to persuade it that its settings were all perfectly OK, so why wasn’t it starting? Eventually it did.

I wish there was an NHS for computers.

Hope to get back to regular blogging soon. Choir has all sorts of exciting things planned, but half of the singers are down with bugs as well.

The unkindest bug of all happened just now. I tried to log in to the blog to post this and was greeted every time with an error message. The rest of the website was working, so I sent a message to the web hosting company’s support people. Within ten minutes, I got an email saying problem was fixed! Now that is service. Well done, Free Virtual Servers.

Oh, and my husband has now caught the bug from me. So guilt is added to my other woes.

But I will be back. All this misery surely can’t last.

January 18, 2017

Back soon!

evelyn @ 4:08 pm

Having a month off after all the Christmas music, which went surprisingly well.

Back in February!

December 15, 2016

Desperately catching up!

evelyn @ 2:57 pm

Christmas has run away with things again, hence lack of blog posts in spite of all good intentions.

The speed at which Advent goes by is incredible. It’s quite unlike Lent, which drags along miserably and penitentially. Advent, though also penitential, just shoots by, and there’s never enough time to get the choir music ready for Christmas.

As usual, we seem to have been over-ambitious. This time, we’ve gone in for a bit of polyphony – just a little bit in a medieval piece. Our men, having been allowed ‘O Holy Night’ this year without argument, are on a roll, and their loud joyous counterpoint, not entirely correct rhythmically, intimidated the altos, who last week asked to be removed from their vicinity. There’s room in our practice side chapel for separate groupings, but the gallery on Christmas Eve will be another matter. However, the altos have not been idle. At this week’s practice, they sang a difficult passage perfectly, then sat and looked smug. It turned out that they had had an intensive practice on their own between Masses last Sunday. They are now full of confidence and back in position next to the men, whose timing errors they are earnestly trying to correct, to everyone’s amusement.

With last year’s ‘O Holy Night’ feud in mind, I’ll finish with a re-run of the goat rendition of this well-known piece (guess which side I’m on!).  If video doesn’t work, go here and scroll down.

November 21, 2016

Christmas Gloria – audio files

evelyn @ 9:06 pm

There’s been an incredible amount of interest in our free download of Eugene Burns’s St Magdalene Christmas Gloria. Not that St Magdalene has much to do with Christmas, of course. The St Magdalene Gloria, which has been around for some time, has been modified by the composer to include a Christmas carol refrain for seasonal use, hence the name.

There have been some requests for audio files, which we were pleased to be able to to upload today. They are computer-generated and without words, but give an idea of how the music works.

Those interested can find all this here.

November 14, 2016

A Christmas Gloria

evelyn @ 9:55 pm

Just added to the Downloads and Shop page: a Gloria for the Christmas season.  It’s the existing St Magdalene Gloria by Eugene Burns but with a Christmas refrain, based on ‘Angels we have heard on high’.

If you already know the St Magdalene Gloria – our parish sings it all the time, the chant is so straightforward – then adding in a well-known carol  should be no problem.  If you don’t know it, it might be worth learning.  The composer has kindly agreed to our publishing it as a free download, at least for a limited period.  So why not try it out?

Also, the full Christmas Carol Mass is again available in the Forth in Praise shop.

October 31, 2016

Christmas panic is starting.

evelyn @ 8:33 pm

Busy getting the Christmas Carol Mass back on the publications page after several enquiries. It should be there tomorrow.

And I haven’t bought a single Christmas card yet …

October 24, 2016

Mix and match Masses

evelyn @ 6:04 pm

Following the liturgical shake-up of the 2010 Missal, I wonder if somewhere along the line the idea has taken root that you can’t split up a Mass setting into its component parts and use them separately?

I know of three parishes, and have heard of more, which adopted a certain revised Mass setting in its entirety at the time of the Great Change in 2011. They must have made a real effort, as the setting I’m thinking of includes a through-composed Gloria. Five years on, they are still singing it. Even if some of the people are becoming restive and would like a change, the idea of again going through the process of learning a whole new Mass setting is making them think twice.

Other parishes, mine included, tackled the 2011 challenge with a bit of mixing and matching …

OK, the Agnus Dei hasn’t changed, so we can use existing ones for now. The Sanctus has changed just a teeny bit, so we’ll get tweaked versions of the ones we know, and maybe find a couple more. Hmm, those Memorials are all new. Better go with the ICEL chant for the time being …

… and so on. The upshot is that five years later there is quite a variety to play with. For example, a single Mass could have the Missa de Angelis Gloria (in Latin), a Sanctus by Schubert, an ICEL Memorial Acclamation chant and the old Bellahouston Agnus Dei. My parish is currently ringing the changes with four Glorias and five Sanctuses, although we do need to find a new Agnus or two, and the Memorial Acclamations are rather hanging fire.

Agreed, these patchwork Masses don’t have the unity of a Mass by one composer, but they make it much easier to introduce and teach new Mass parts, slipping them in one at a time. And we’re not singing the same melodies week after week.

Unless we mix-and-matchers have got it all wrong, and the Church has indeed made a rule about unity of music. I wouldn’t put it past them. Does anyone know?

Don’t answer that.

October 17, 2016

Getting to grips with Twitter

evelyn @ 12:58 pm

The other day I looked into the Twitter app on my iPad and found … amazing things! Some people have been following Forth in Praise, some have retweeted one or two of our tweets, and some have even been sending messages. And I never knew!

For someone of the older generation, I had always thought I’d kept up quite well with advancing technology. Facebook and Twitter, however, have always defeated me. I was on Facebook briefly, but was put off by the jargon and worse, by the eternal fear of clicking in the wrong place and sending a friend request to a stranger. I gave up on Facebook, and just put the odd bit of news on the Forth in Praise Twitter account, which had been set up by our previous webmaster.

Now I’ve discovered all this Twitter interaction which everyone will think I’ve ignored. So apologies all round and thank you to followers for remaining with Forth in Praise.

I’ve decided I must work at Twitter now. The next thing is to find out what happens when you follow someone.

Yes, Forth in Praise will become more active on Twitter. And the first thing I’ll do is tweet just that.

October 10, 2016

Hymns I DON’T want at my funeral!

evelyn @ 6:44 pm

I suppose every funeral organist at some point will start thinking about the music for his or her own funeral. Many of my organist friends, including younger ones, have actually decided what they want, and some have even written down their wishes.

I haven’t got that far yet, but I have some very definite ideas about hymns I don’t want:

  • Walk with me. I just hate this ditty with its totally inappropriate accompaniment. Yet it is incredibly popular, and I’ve never understood why.
  • I watch the sunrise. Hate this one, too. The gaps in the melody make it so difficult for the people to keep together.
  • How great thou art. The wide range is tricky to sing and there is that awkward downward leap of an augmented 4th at the first ‘How great thou art’, which so many people overshoot.
  • Going home. The well-known symphonic melody is great for orchestra, not so good for singers, with its wide range and all the high notes towards the end. And the words vary from hymn book to hymn book.
  • Here I am, Lord.
  • On eagles’ wings.
  • Anything by Graham Kendrick.
  • Anything with meaningless and cringe-making tempo indications, such as ‘Worshipfully’, ‘Thoughtfully’, ‘Prayerfully’, and the like.
  • Most – possibly all – Catholic post-Vatican II hymns.

Strange to say, I wouldn’t automatically count out those two old faithfuls, Crimond and Abide with me. There’s always such a massive response to them. Even the non-churchgoers know them, and can make the rafters ring.

However, I mustn’t assume there’s going to be an enormous crowd …



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