An apology….but it wasn’t my fault!

A couple of posts ago I intimated that your TV screen would be graced by my image on the last three Songs of Praise programmes which were based in the West of Scotland, and the Cathedral I attend, St Mary’s in Glasgow.

Well, I have to admit that I didn’t have any kind of starring role, because the cameras, with all the opportunities they had, steadfastly managed to avoid the rear pew where I was seated. I even thought of waving to them to let them know I was available at no charge, but still they kept looking for the lovely young ladies!

I did appear at a distance quite a few times in the wonderful high shots from the front…..so I don’t feel too bad!

However, the stars of the shows were the wonderful architecture of the Cathedral, the superb performances of the musicians, and of course, the supreme beauty of the west of Scotland….but you should come up and see it all for yourself!

Irishpisky’s on Television!

Yes, it’s official, I shall be on television for the next three Sundays….well perhaps you might catch some brief glimpses of me!

The next few editions of Songs of Praise, hosted by Sally Magnusson,  involve the beautiful west if Scotland, and some of the singing comes from my own Church, St Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral in Glasgow.  Recording was done over two evenings; the first to do the sound recording and the second to superimpose the camera work with the previously-recorded music….quite tricky, I should imagine!

So on Sunday, at 5pm, watch out for a tall, grey-haired bloke with glasses and a beard near the back of the cathedral, singing lustily with an Irish accent. If I am able to record it and put a bit into the blog, I shall do so.

Re-cycled music!

 choir-with-music

On one of my other blogs ( click on the ANGELUS SINGERS Blogroll link) I happened to be describing the life story of John Stainer, a marvellous and famous English organist and composer. He is probably best known for his oratorio ‘Crucifixion’. I had mentioned that many decades ago, I had conducted this piece with a choir who mostly used Tonic Solfa (a way of reading music). This method is rarely, if ever, used now-a-days.

Someone e-mailed me to say that they had googled to try and find out if there were any of these copies still in existence. A member of the Royal School of Church Music was going to South Africa, and wanted to teach the piece to people who had no access to normal staff music. Luckily I was able to contact my old church, speak to one of my old choir members and establish that indeed those same copies were still in the music cupboard.

They are now on their way to South Africa to be re-used some 4 decades later……the internet is wonderful!

Listen Here!

radio-4

I was on Radio 4 this morning….maybe you didn’t notice!

I must be honest, it was more a case of my croaky voice, and cough!

Our Cathedral is convenient for the BBC Studios in Glasgow, and the Morning Service was live from there from 8.10 am. That meant we had to be seated by 7.45!  The Choir of 40 was its usual wonderful self with some unusual pieces (including one from a Salvation Army book), and the readings and Sermon were all about the dawning of the new day.

The uniquitous cold/cough which I brought into the Cathedral had to be stifled several times, and even my singing of the hymns had to be done with caution. I had two microphones quite close to where I was sitting, and I am sure that at least  one cough may now be in the BBC archives. If you are a desperately-sad case, and want to see if you can spot it, then click on the link below…at least for about a week, and then the BBC will probably decide to edit it out after numerous complaints!

For a wonderful piece of music listen to the anthem …..which comes just after the Sermon….’The Quiet Heart….’  (words by James Morgan, and music by June Collin)….superb!

http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/sundayworship/

Singing in Hospital!

carol-singers

Last night, I joined with many others of our Church, and other Churches (in total about 40 folk), to visit a hospital at the west end of Glasgow. The event was organised by the Chaplaincy Centre, and involved dividing into groups and going round various parts of the hospital to sing carols.

You need music of course, and two other groups had a guitar, or, in one lovely case, a set of hand-bells, whilst your’s-truly brought along a keyboard for our group.

The only problem was that the keyboard did not have a stand, and was mains-powered, so at each of the locations (generally in a passageway), we had to find some flat surface to place the keyboard, a chair, and a mains-socket.

As most people realise, all of the above are in short supply in such a situation, as you can’t ACTUALLY push someone out of bed to set the keyboard down, so sometimes it was on a trolley, and sometimes on my knees! Also,  the risk of pulling-out some vital piece of life-saving equipment is always there so we had to do a lot of double-checking before getting power!

What came over to me was that there are a considerable number of people in hospital, all with their individual worries. It is something we only think about when we have to go into a hospital, or see a programme on TV.

In our general life we mostly see normal, reasonably-healthy people, and so it is easy to forget the pain, suffering, and anguish people and families are having to endure on a daily basis, and in an especially-poignant way, at this time of the year.

Does singing and music in general help in the healing process? Well, there is some evidence to show that people who sing regularly, and enjoy music, tend to have a happier disposition and a slightly-better average life. So maybe we did make a minute difference.

But it will be a long time before I will forget the look on some of those poor people. We obviously could say no more than platitudes…you sometimes just don’t know what to say.

Many of the serious cases may not make it past Christmas, but I suppose if we have raised a small smile of joy, or a glimpse of recognition of Christmasses gone past, then it will have achieved something.

‘What about Carol?

 carol-singers

 At this time of the year, our Choir (Angelus Singers……check the Link) are involved in Carol services. Thought you might like to know some facts you might not have known about Christmas Carols…you can always throw a few into a lull in a conversation or at dinner-party…:- 

  • Originally a Carol was not a religious song, but a secular dance, often in 3/4 time…..a bit like a waltz
  • The carol ‘In Dulci Jubilo’, when the words are sung as a mixture of English (from the German), and Latin, is an example of a ‘macaronic carol’. The melody can be found in a 14th century manuscript in Leipzig University.
  • The wonderful combination of Charles Wesley and Felix Mendelssohn gave us ‘Hark! The Herald Angels Sing’.
  • The tune of the French carol ‘Whence is that Goodly Fragrance’ later appeared as the rousing drinking song ‘Fill ev’ry glass, for wine inspires us’ in John Gay’s ‘The Beggars Opera’ in the 18th Century. I remember well singing it with the Kirkie Players some years ago!
  • ‘Good King Wenceslas’ originally appeared in 1582, as a Spring carol. It was only about 150 years ago that the 10th Century story of Saint Wenceslas of Bohemia was told. After his father died, he encouraged Christianity in Bohemia, against the wishes of his mother, and was murdered by his brother Buleslav.
  • The Romans used Holly to decorate their houses at the feast of Saturnalia, which occurred in the winter season. Ivy was dedicated by them, to Bacchus from the idea that it warded-off drunken-ness!
  • The Coventry Carol (‘Lul-ly, lul-lay’) is one of the oldest English Carols. The original tune comes from 1591 and was sung in the Coventry Plays of that era.
  • There are several Wassailling Songs. The word Wassail means ‘Keep You Well’.
  • Czechoslovakia has provided a number of lovely quiet carols including the ‘Rocking Carol’, ‘The Birds’, and ‘The Zither Carol’. ‘Infant Holy’ is from Poland.
  • ‘We Three Kings of Orient Are’ was written in 1857 by Dr J.H.Hopkins of Pennsylvania, one of very few well-known carols from the USA.

 

So give a thought, when next singing over Christmas, that the words and music may have had a very strange history.

Remember, remember…..

Recently, we have had the local noises of fireworks, as people, for some strange reason, let off excessive numbers of fireworks. Is it to ward-off evil spirits, or just some kind of ‘last-fling’ at the end of Spring?  Why should we want to remember the Fifth of November, anyway?

This morning, at the Cathedral, we remembered the fallen, in a very gentle way, with no blazing trumpets, but a simple selection of hymns, Peter Maxwell-Davies’ moving ‘Farewell to Stromness’ played on the piano, and Frikki Walker’s ‘Prayer for Peace’.

This afternoon, with the foul weather, we started to clear out some old photographs. No easy task! We thought we would get rid of a lot, but it feels rather uncomfortable to destroy images of ones we knew, and maybe even more so, those we didn’t know, as they were before our time. So we compromise by getting some destroyed, some scanned-into the computer, and others to be sent-off to relations who might not have copies, and would welcome them, and even more to be passed on to the Glasgow’s People Palace. This is because the Lady’s forebears were famous in the Glasgow East-End Ministry, and were great supporters of the working people of the area. 

And so we have had a period of recalling those who at various times have passed-on. And what memories will we leave behind, and how will people sum-up our attitude to life and others (as they will)? Happy, pleasant, annoying, snobby, short-tempered, truthful, reliable, patient?

So it behoves us to remember this whenever we interact with someone we love, or someone we have just met for the first time…because we are laying down how we will be remembered long after we are gone. How would you like to be remembered? …..maybe I will just go down as a long-winder old blogger!!