Hertingfordbury Parish News: June 2003
From the Organ Loft
Continuing the theme from last month - the Prayer Book refers to the "Minister and the People". The choir is part of the people and often it helps to make up for the short comings of the congregation in singing and saying. It is a pity that so many churches these days have no choirs at all.
The organist cannot shut himself away happily with his choir and give no attention to singing activity in the nave. Membership of a choir is a privilege, and the choir itself is privileged to possess and use a musical gift to the enhancement of the beauty of the service; and to help the congregation in their singing and saying of the service. The choir itself is part of the worshipping community, and because of its prominence in most churches, its behaviour has a vital effect upon the atmosphere of a service. This makes its responsibility an immense one.
As an organist, I may be in a more serious position because I am in command of a vast quantity of noise. The organist has to provide leadership during more than half the service, and has to fit as exactly as possible to the needs of everyone; being assertive without being obtrusive. It is also the organist's responsibility to help set a worshipful atmosphere prior to the beginning of a service. Normally a quiet voluntary or quiet improvisation will be played a few minutes before the service. (This is when the bells would normally cease ringing.) At the risk of being unpopular, I must say that I find this hard to achieve at St. Mary's. On Sundays, for some reason, there is always a lot of chatter, noise and movement before the service. I personally do not subscribe to this before a service, because there is a loss of peace and tranquillity desirable for those preparing themselves for the service. Reverend Rosemary has put a notice on the porch door, with clear recommendations. It does seem to me that joyful greetings and fellowship sharing should come at the end of the service. Certainly, as an organist this would help me immensely.
M.H. Pulsator Organorum
Please note: Although the Hertingfordbury Parish News is produced by St. Mary's PCC, the opinions expressed by contributors are not necessarily those of the PCC.