An organist’s lot…


Spare a thought this Christmas for church organists, forced to wrestle with innumerable books to accommodate the season’s musical requirements.

Here is a re-enactment of a particular highlight from this morning’s service (click for a larger version). From left to right, we have:

  • Bible open at Isaiah 45, for the antiphon to the introit psalm.
  • Wedged behind the Bible, the card with the psalm tones.
  • LSB liturgy accompaniment, open at Psalm 19. Of course, I had to remember not to follow the pointing as printed, because the “first” verse actually consisted of verse 1 and the final clause of verse 4.
  • LSB hymns accompaniment volume, being pressed into service to hold open…
  • Hymns Ancient & Modern New Standard (a good hymn book appallingly bound – simply will not stay open of its own accord), open at the tune for “As with gladness men of old” for use in a special setting of the Gloria Patri, to follow the psalm.

So all I had to do was finish playing the tune for “O come, O come, Emmanuel” for the Kyrie setting, turn to “As with gladness men of old” in readiness for the Gloria Patri, start playing the psalm tone, use the Bible for the antiphon, mentally re-point Psalm 19 as I played, then switch immediately over to the hymn book to play the Gloria Patri. At least I could then have a rest during the readings, before the next hymn.

Not shown: the two other books I had to use for other hymns (and liturgy) during the service.

(OK, some of the pain was self-inflicted. I could probably have played the hymn tune from the LSB itself. But I tend to prefer the A&M settings. Oh, and yes, I know that’s a Clavinova rather than an organ. Look, I’m working on it, right?)

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3 Responses to An organist’s lot…

  1. Rev. Alex Klages says:

    The ironic thing is that now that we have a Clavinova, our organist, who never played with the stops at all on our organ, fiddles about with the pipe organ settings on the keyboard to add emphasis to verses and what not. I’m still hoping for a new organ down the road, but it’s actually an improvement over our organ to have a Clavinova.

  2. Thomas says:

    I suspect most folks think organists just wait patiently for the nod from the pastor, then effortlessly play the hymn, introit, or whatever slip of liturgy is required. Having been sort of pastoral on a Sunday morning, let me say thanks to you as a representative of the good organists who made my job easier by shuffling all those books, scores, slips of papers with last minute hymn changes. By the bye, I don’t know how anyone plays an organ – it’s like being a drummer with keyboards, or something like that.

    Peace out.

  3. Patrick Kyle says:


    This is totally off topic, but I don’t know how else to contact you. Could you please email me? I need to find a decent church in the Leeds area. I’ll fill you in on the details through email.


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