Wednesday, November 06, 2013

The organist and the photographer

click photo to enlarge
This is, I think, the third photograph that I've posted showing a church organist. There's something about a dark church, with the silhouette of the musician at the console in a pool of light, that appeals to me. The first, taken at St Wulfram's in Grantham made much of the rather fine, highly ornate, organ case. The second was taken, as I recall, in Holbeach church and was more a study in concentration. It also resulted in a flurry of hits on the blog by people (presumably) looking to book an organist for their wedding. Today's comes from Ledbury church in Herefordshire, and here I took the opportunity to include myself in the shot, reflected in the mirror that the organist uses to take a cue from the officiating vicar.

As I processed the photograph I noticed a couple of copies of "Hymns Old & New". These can often be seen on church organs. As a youngster I was aware of "Hymns Ancient and Modern" and I've always assumed that the current book is an updated version of this old classic. However, I'm told that's not the case; the book "Common Praise" seems to attempt that task. Moreover, as I read a little more about "Hymns Old & New" I discovered that it is a tome that appears to be either loved or reviled. Critics accuse it of re-casting old favourites in different keys, and generally  pitching them for lower voices. "Hark the Herald Angels Sing" is, apparently, in F rather than the usual G (gasp!). They also see the hymns as being subject to "politically correctness" citing the fact that "Onward Christian Soldiers" has become "Onward Christian Pilgrims"! I don't have a view on all of this but in reading the scathing comments about this collection of hymns, and the equally passionate defence of the modernised versions of old favourites, I was reminded that there's often nothing like religion for irreligious argument, vituperation and rancour.

photograph and text © Tony Boughen

Camera: Sony RX100
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 14.8mm (40mm - 35mm equiv.)
F No: f2.8
Shutter Speed: 1/40
ISO: 800
Exposure Compensation:  0 EV
Image Stabilisation: On