Every now and again I get asked to help out with music at an early traditional service at one of the local churches here in Darwin. They called me in this morning, which surprised me little bit since it’s the first day of Advent, which is normally the sort of service that all the pianists and organists want in on. It seemed odd to me that none of their local musicians were making themselves available.

 

Well, it turns out this service only has one musician at the best of times, and she wasn’t available this week because she had three other services to prepare for. Well… okay. I can relate to that.

I also know why organists, pianists, synth operators and general keys related musicians all want to play Advent one. Two words:

Veni Emmanuel.

In English it’s usually called “O Come, O Come Emmanuel,” which is fair enough because, seriously, who speaks Latin? The correct answer is no-one. It’s great fun to play on just about any keyboard, but especially on the pipe organ. Gradually building up the stops through the verses and then coupling in the pedals to play the last one in unison before hitting that final “Rejoice, Rejoice” with everything you’ve got is what pipe organs were designed for. Dubstep can bite me: nothing drops the bass like a thirty-two foot diapason. And finishing it all off with that awesome tierce de Picardy just adds sweet chili to the perfectly crafted basket of wedges and sour cream that is the traditional Advent One anthem.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have a pipe organ at this service, just a sadly and indeed criminally neglected old upright piano. It’s been in that church for at least twenty years, and I remember playing it as a teenager in its glory days. Its current state is a pitiful shadow of what it once was. Increasingly the same could be said of my own skills on the piano. I really need to practice more or in twenty years I’ll be every bit an indictment on neglect as the poor piano itself is.

The service itself was a “traditional” service, which in Darwin tends to mean a service for old people who won’t be having with this new-fangled praise and worship nonsense. Four hymn sandwich for me, thanks very much. Hold the mustard. Some of the parishioners were in a worse state than the piano.

But you know what? They still sang their lungs out when we got to the last chorus, which was a whole lot better than my super trendy young adults and families service managed later that same Sunday. We didn't sing it at all, because no-one pays the slgihtest attention to the liturgical calendar anymore. Philistines!

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee O Israel.

Make of that what you will.

 

 

Garry with 2 Rs

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