Tuesday, July 14, 2009


In my world, I have had to break down the work week into specific sections. This was mainly due to the fact that I maintain two offices and spend equal time in each one. Five years ago when I was busy setting up my two offices, I was trying to figure out the best way to accomplish that. What I ended up doing was designating CC as my "liturgy" office and VC as my "sermon" office.

This has worked out very well. In the beginning, I had a real, live organist at CC; so I would meet with her Monday mornings to go over hymns. I'd tell her what I'd like to have played, and she'd tell me whether or not she could handle them. Then, when she retired and we put Ms. Emily to use, I had my organist right there in the office with me.

I've come to really appreciate and love Ms. Emily. She doesn't gripe about what I ask her to play. She either knows the hymn or she doesn't. I can adjust her tempo and musical styles at will. And I always know exactly how many verses she's going to play.

That second item, though, has created an interesting scenario. She knows most of the hymns in the Episcopal Hymnal. She also knows hymns from the Baptist, Methodist and Presbyterian hymnals, as well as a whole slew of other music. She must have almost 2000 hymns in her memory. But there are some hymns that she just doesn't know.

So, what happens when there's a hymn I want to use on Sunday that Emily doesn't know? I pull out my organist's version of the hymnal and do some research. I find another hymn with the same meter that Ms. Emily does know; then we sing the hymn to a different tune. Sort of like Amazing Grace sung to House of the Rising Sun, or Come Thou Fount sung to Clementine.

It's a dangerous thing to put musical tools in the hands of a musically illiterate, tone deaf, vocally challenged priest. Dangerous, yes -- but never boring.


First time comments will be moderated.