Toccata and feud

by Richard on September 22, 2005

There’s an old joke:
What’s the difference between an organist and a terrorist?
You can negotiate with a terrorist.

It seems that organists are not always happy with their clergy. And there was me thinking it was always the organists’ fault! ;) The Times reports today the publication of a new book for Church Organists, Everything Else an Organist Should Know, which gives advice on what to do when relationships with the vicar become strained.

Too many clergy use organists as “human jukeboxes”, demand impossible working hours and refuse to bow to their superior musical knowledge when it comes to choosing hymns, according to a study this week.

Although there are at least 30,000 qualified organists in the country there is a chronic shortage in Britain’s churches because increasing numbers are refusing to work with difficult and demanding clergy.

Sounds like it should be compulsory reading for clergy and musicians alike. It might well help to see things from the other’s perspective.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }


Ian McKenzie 09.22.05 at 8:44 pm

What’s an organist? Do they play in worship bands? :^)


Ian McKenzie 09.22.05 at 8:45 pm

BTW, excellent post title.


Eugene McKinnon 09.22.05 at 10:46 pm

I have had some serious horror stories with some organists in my lay preaching days. I am still unable to speak about that runaway version of Great is Thy Faithfulness. ;)

I have one friend who recognises that the organ was the rock guitar of the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries and feels that the time has come to purge all places of worship from the ‘kist o’ whistles’ and replace them with contemporary music.

When they begin to write contemporary worship music that is not white bread sentimental slobber and write some doctrinally sound music and lyrics then I will negotiate.



Richard 09.22.05 at 11:29 pm

Ah Ian - I was forgetting you sallies and your timbrels! An organ is what real church music is played on. ;)
Glad you liked the title - coming up with that was the only reason I posted the story!

Eugene - I almost agree with you. We’re just setting up a new music group in my church, so I don’t accept that all contemporay music is as you describe. Alot of it is though. Incidentally, is it possible for music to be doctrinally unsound?

Apparently, organists have a version of the joke that i used in the post:
What’s the difference between a clergyman and a terrorist?
A terrorist knows what he’s doing.

Doesn’t work so well as the original, but it’s a nice try.


Robert Leach 09.29.05 at 10:07 pm

As the author of the book “Everything Else an Organist Should Know”, I am flattered with all the attention my humble work is generating.
The issue of music groups and organists is addressed in the book.
There is no problem with properly run music groups, I have played in several.
The book is available from Organist Publications, 19 Chestnut Avenue, Ewell, Epsom, Surrey KT19 0SY, price £15 plus £2 postage.
It also has chapters on running a choir, copyright law, tax, finance, child protection, health and safety, licensing, and much else.


Richard 09.29.05 at 11:15 pm

Thanks for dropping in!

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