It was reading the thoughts of Artsy Honker that reminded me of the old joke. And it was her comment that the Telegraph had an advert for a karaoke-type hymn playing machine that reminded me of Thomas Hardy's "Under the Greenwood Tree".
In UTGT, you may remember, the village Quire - a bunch of musicians and singers - is chucked out in favour of an organist. The implication in the preface seeming to be that the vicars of those days preferred the relative control of dealing with one instrumentalist - and that often the vicar's daughter, or, if the schoolmistress his employee - rather than a stroppy bunch of independently minded small tradesmen.
Indeed, the vicar could go further, and introduce the 19th Century equivalent of the hymn CD player - a barrel organ. Basically, you turned the handle and, be you as sober as a Methodist or as plastered as an Anglican, the tune came out as the writer intended.
In these woeful days, it would seem, the barrel has turned full circle. In the great clergy-organist war, if ever it really existed, nobody is the winner. Where have all the young organists gone? Gone to play on X boxes, every one.
While the vicar is no victor. For what with running around between half a dozen parishes, s/he would probably welcome a musician with some creativity of their own. Ah well, until we encourage a great outbreak of ukulele playing, I guess it's on with the CDs.
And why do music groups have bass players? So they've got someone who can communicate with the drummer.