Getting right back on topic, we had a very interesting exchange at church yesterday morning, which left us feeling seriously hacked off:
By way of explanation, there was to be a Baptism in the main Eucharist, so it was a full house (120 +), including many people who I doubt were regular churchgoers.
The Vicar had set the hymns about a month ago, including the final hymn which he planned to lead on guitar to some Calypso melody or another.
Anyhow, we arrived at church about 45 minutes before the service to be greeted by a Vicaress who informed us she was standing in for the Vicar. She also said that she knew nothing about music, (this was soon to become painfully obvious), so we tactfully pointed out that there was going to be a problem with the final hymn, (the words to which had been printed on the service sheet).
Vicaress: Oh, can't you just play it on the organ?
SBJ: No, I don't have the music, and it'll be in guitar chords, so it won't work on the organ.
Vicaress: Why not?
SBJ: Guitar chords are different, and in any case we don't have the music.
By this time the Verger had joined in the conversation, and suggested that she might be able to find a tape instead.
Me: Do we really want to end the service with a tape when we have an organ and organist? Why don't we change it to a well known hymn from the hymn book that everyone will enjoy singing?
Vicaress: I agree, we should change it. (There was little other choice.)
Verger: The music group won't like that.
SBJ: Where is the music group; can one of them play it on guitar?
Verger: They are on holiday.
Vicaress (in very condescending tone): OK, I know you're only young, but what can you play?
SBJ: Pretty much anything from NEH or A&M.
Vicaress: I am not familiar with those hymn books. What would you suggest?
SBJ and I reeled through a dozen or more favourites, including Love Divine (Blaenwern), which the Vicaress through might be appropriate, although she doubted that any of the younger people would know it. (Never mind that it was sung at the recent Royal Wedding.)
That was all agreed, so everyone went about their business.
SBJ started by playing a few voluntaries as usual, and about three minutes before kick-off played an improvisation of the first hymn, but had to keep this going rather longer than expected as the service started nearly ten minutes late!
The first hymn (O Jesus I Have Promised) was fine, and most of those present sang it. The Gradual was one of those awful three-line ditties from Sing Glory, which ended up pretty much as an organ solo as nobody knew it or wanted to sing it. Then came Dear Lord and Father (Repton), which everyone seemed to know, and sang well. We finally got to Love Divine, which pretty much raised the roof!
Given the mix of the congregation this seemed to prove beyond doubt exactly what sort of hymns people like singing!
However, the congregational response to these hymns didn't seem to please the Vicaress one little bit. There was not one word of thanks, and her parting comment to SBJ was that "if you want to play in churches like this you will have to learn hymns from Mission Praise as that is what people want these days. Nobody uses the English Hymnal any more."
Frankly I thought this was a total insult; and the church doesn't even have a copy of Mission Praise!