Sunday, May 16, 2010

By Jordan's Bank

I've just deputised for an organist friend at the Sunday afternoon feeding frenzy otherwise known as Parish Baptisms. Now these events are considerably less feral than they once were. My first baptisms were 13, in the one go, the day after I was ordained a deacon. I know that at some stage in the intervening years I've had to bark orders to extinguish all cigarettes. Congregational behaviour has somewhat improved over the years. You can't blame them really. It is an awkward rite in it's new form. Large groups of people, frequently unfamiliar with the inside of a church, are expected to wander between baptistery and altar making responses that are strange. Add to this that today the celebrant managed to get himself, in cope, stuck at the top of a ladder lighting candles from the paschal candle. He hadn't quite calculated on how to get down again with a handful of flaming tapers.

I guess the general banality of the music must be some comfort. We started this afternoon with 'Amazing Grace'. Fair enough, the theology is not that bad and many other popular tunes have been sanitised through hallowed use. Next came 'Morning has broken'. Well I can see some vague connection there to the sacred mystery being celebrated but I suspect that wasn't what Eleanor Farjeon had in mind (nor Cat Stevens for that matter). Finally we had 'Give me oil in my lamp'. The sooner that gets put on a revived Index the better. We'd started out before hand with two movements of a Bach Trio Sonata to try and calm down the masses. By the end of everything my secret past as a theatre organist just had to come to the fore; a nice transcription of Au fond du temple saint from Bizet's Pearlfishers seemed very appropriate - well just as appropriate of what else had been on offer!

Me culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa!


  1. Must have been worth time off purgatory for your suffering at any rate. And the Bizet is a lot more tasteful and fun than the rest of that earnest rubbish, and certainly no less appropriate! Let's just call it inculturation....

  2. Well, look on the bright side; at least they weren’t Baptisms during Mass.

    But you didn’t tell us how (if) the Celebrant got down. Did you have to call the Fire Brigade? ("I see Sir, got your priest stuck up a ladder again. We’ll send a unit straight away.”)


  3. Be assured Father got down safely with a little help from his friends. Well one to steady the ladder, the others to rescue the candles.

    More to the point; What was the paschal candle still doing in the sanctuary? Oh right I remember now. And I thought it had been a bad dream!


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