Monday, 18 November 2013

A day in the life

A few years ago our parish church - Norman, 900-something years old - suffered thefts of lead from its roof. There was a spate of such thefts in the area at that time. Eventually, with the help of insurance money, the roof was repaired with materials unlikely to be stolen, we hope, and an array of deterrents installed. Unfortunately the Victorian pipe organ was badly water-damaged, such that less than half of it was operational. Estimates were sought for its repair, but we soon realised that our tiny congregation would never be able to raise the sums needed. However, the insurers had allocated a modest payout for internal damage and with that we purchased a digital organ which now sits to one side of the nave between the main body of the church and the choir.
On Remembrance Sunday, a solemn occasion when people unlikely to be in church  at any other time (except perhaps for Christmas) are traditionally present, complete sometimes with medals, the sound system in the church was making unusual - and very loud - noises. Four or five times came a sound like a heavy bookcase crashing onto a tiled floor from a great height, and it was both startling and unpredictable. Nobody seemed to know how to stop it.
The service over, I launched into my closing voluntary. One and a half bars in, the organ died. Consternation!
On a day of a major service in the year, we were not looking good: rackety speakers and truncated music. After some fiddling with switches we got the organ back, to my relief. And later that morning I took a phone call from a friend who until recently was our highly effective churchwarden. Full of apologies, but also chuckles, he confessed that he had inadvertently switched off the organ in an attempt to silence the hair-raising crashes.
Musical disasters in church are not infrequently my fault - but not this time.
Here's a photo of me playing a wheezy harmonium in a chapel on a recent visit to Melbourne, Australia.


  1. I always think it is a good job the Lord has a sense of humour! and I think it is a job requirement that also church organists and church wardens have a sense of humour too. It sounds like you and that churchwardens fulfill the necessary skills. :-)

  2. Never a dull moment for church organists who get to see the full arc of life process through the doors to the strains of an Organ Involuntary. Choirs and organists are often unsung heroes. Hats off to you all for everything you do.