All posts by Andy Taylor

Easter 2021

After a rather solemn Lent, with (obviously) no Gloria, we reached Holy Week. I was a bit worried about what we would be allowed to do, and also whether we’d be expected to do too much – we’ve had no choir or capability to practice. However all was good – Fr. Mark asked for latin Gloria for Maundy Thursday, so we used the Gloria VIII (de angelis).  For the Vigil he wanted something lively and joyful.  We debated Anderson (clappy), but it’s not aligned with the new translation, decided against the Christmas Gloria and settled on Storrington (Haugen), which we also used on Easter Sunday.

With no palm procession or washing of feet on Maundy Thursday, and no veneration of the Cross on Good Friday I didn’t have too much to do (but a lot more than last Easter when we were in lockdown!). Psalms would have been nice, but with no practice and limited readers due to Covid these were read/spoken. The Exsultet chant for the vigil however must be sung, so I sang the Walker version.  I decided to record it as I sang, purely to see how good or bad it was after only running throught it 3 times at home.  You can listen to it here:


 

Sung Gloria

Public singing feels very strange in the current Covid-19 world, and more so since the virus spread widely before Christmas.  However, for the new year, Fr. Mark has asked for a sung Gloria (in Latin).  We settled on the Gloria VIII (de angelis) plainchant taken from the Roman Missal, as it’s not overly complicated. I’m getting used to it now, but for the first week I found my vocal chords to be extremely ‘rusty’ as I’ve not sung in a public space for a good 9 months.

Singing by small groups is actually permitted by government guidelines (the Southwark Cathedral choir have been singing at Sunday Masses since before Christmas), so for safety we follow RSCM guidelines and sing from the organ loft with me facing away from the congregation towards the organ (it gets a thorough cleaning after Mass!) and our cantor (my wife) stood right at the back of the choir loft wearing a perspex visor. This puts us a good 3m from the front edge of the loft, and well above the congregation.  I only use quiet stops on the swell for the chant accompaniment so we don’t need to sing too loudly.

 

Christmas Eve Carols 2020

Hymns for the Christmas Eve masses are on the Weekly Music page. I was also asked to play an ‘Organ Carol Service’ at 11pm before the 11:30pm Mass. There were no readings or singing, so I just played through a list of carols.  Apart from forgetting what key I should be in for the first verse of “while shepherds watched”, all went pretty well and my timings worked out almost precisely, so I finished on the dot of 11:30pm.  Shortly afterwards, the priest rang the bell and I launched into Come to the Manger for the procession to the crib.
The complete list of carols was:

Gaudate
Infant Holy
What shall we give
What Child is this
Unto us is born a son
It came upon the midnight clear
While shepherds watched their flocks by night
Once in Royal David’s City
Hark the herald angels sing
Away in a manger
O Little Town of Bethlehem
O come all ye faithful
Silent night

4th Sunday in Advent

You can see the hymns for Advent on the music page.  From the 2nd Sunday onwards we’ve been back at church with organ for Entrance, Communion and Recessional.

Sadly, it seems that we’re going to be doing much the same for Christmas.  I’ve agreed to play the organ for 6:30pm and 11:30pm Masses, same format, but also Fr. Mark has asked for a 30 minute “Organ Carols” service from 11:00pm before the 11:30pm Mass. So I get all the fun, but that playing carols without singing seems a bit sad for the congregation who’ll probably be feeling that they want to join in and will know most of the words!

I’ve thought of playing lesser known stuff, but I know many of the congregation have asked for carols. The question now is which ones – I’ll play though a long list and time them so I can fill 30 minutes without significant under-running.  Main thing is not to over-run, I can always play an extra verse or two or have a few extra up my sleeve if I play faster than in practice!

 

 

Advent 2020

After SS Peter & Paul (28th June) the lockdown in England was lifted and Mass was allowed to be celebrated in church again. From then on I stopped recording the hymns, which I’d been doing during lockdown so that parishioners could learn them and sing along while I played over zoom.
Unfortunately we went back into lockdown at the beginning of November. There wasn’t much warning that church services would be banned, so we weren’t able to get the organ hooked up to Zoom (which Fr. Mark arranged at the last minute), so there was no music that week. I started playing over the Zoom call again the following week, but just a verse for the entrance and a few verses for communion and recessional but not the full hymn.

I hope and pray that the 1st Sunday in Advent will be the last time we’re forced to do this. The 4 week lockdown ends on the 2nd December and it seems that church services can resume. Maybe ‘organ only’ is suitably penitential for Advent, but Christmas without carols will be very strange.