Tuesday, 7 January 2014

When Organists Play "Pointless Hymns"

I don't mean really pointless hymns, like "Kum Bay Ah".  But surely you must have noticed that, every now and then, you get a hymn that nobody knows. Without practice, without warning, without the organist having played it as an introit or as incidental music at a previous service, or while everybody's coming in. Just, apparently out of a clear blue sky, a hymn nobody has ever heard of. But by diligent investigation, and hanging out on the organists' section of the "Dark Web", I've discovered something that was previously kept a strict secret, protected by oaths of blood.Organists compete with each other at an adapted version of the TV game show, "Pointless"

The rules are quite simple. The organist has to pick a hymn that nobody in the congregation knows. After all these years, some of them are so good that nobody knows what any of the hymns are. That's classified as a "Pointless Service". By the congregation, at least.


(Pointless is produced by Endemol. I hope they don't mind me hacking low-res images).

11 comments :

  1. At last I have an answer!

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  2. I love playing that game! It's amazing how many 'pointless' hymns are thoase I actually choose quite often and some of my congregation say 'never heard of it'. Mwahahahaha!

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  3. Surely these are not Pointless hymns, but Pointless TUNES? I prefer Michael Perry's words to those of Blake for Jerusalem [see BPW30] and tunes like Abbot's Leigh or Duke Street will be associated with a number of different lyrics in people's minds.
    I have fun during the offering listening to the organist, but watching the Pastor and lip-reading, to see if he is thinking of the same hymn as I am [which is then discussed over Sunday lunch in the Manse]

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  4. Now to forward this to my trainee organist teenage grandson. He's going to have a lot of fun.....

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  5. The tune is definitely involved somehow. Some organists play the wrong tune deliberately! I mean, just because a particular tune is suggested in the hymn book that was introduced a mere 40 or 50 years ago doesn't mean it's the right one. The one in the Old Blue Book is the right one.

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  6. Although I'm not an organist (I wish!) I am the chief CD player. A couple of years ago I played the tune King's Lynn for the hymn "For all your saints still active". Nobody sang! (Well one or two valiantly tried). Later, I was told in no uncertain terms that despite the fact that this was the tune traditionally associated with this hymn, "We don't use THAT tune!" I used Ellacombe the next time and everyone was happy!

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  7. Thanks for all your responses. Yes, technically it's tunes.

    Obviously you're all welcome and very kind. But grief. You sweat away for hours, crafting a carefully-honed piece of theology for zero responses and a few visits.. Or you can put out four pictures of "pointless" boards or insult the Daily Mail, take about 2 minutes over the two combined, and they get 1000 views in a day each.

    *sobs and pounds keyboard*

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    1. Speaking for myself, I enjoy posts like this which are easy to read and comment on, but I bookmark your theology ones for careful pondering later.

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    2. we all like thinking of witty responses to posts like this; you carefully honed etc etc leave us lost in wonder

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  8. I chose "Nearer my God to Thee" at a small village church recently and provoked a very lively discussion on which tune we should use. None of the those on offer in "Hymns and Psalms" or the MHB were "the right one" and the general conclusion was that it was a great pity that no-one could located the copy of the old Primative Methodist hymn book that used to bekept in the chapel for this sort of eventuality. One member of the congregation offered to nip home to seek out her father's United Methodist Hymn Book, but in the end we plumped for one othe MHB tunes and managed very well.

    Why is is that the singing goes so much better in a congregation of 7 Methodists than in a full CofE church?

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    1. That example is a good one - the same debate is held regarding which tune was played on the Titanic.

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