The exit hymn

Blessed Sacrament Church, Hollywood , CA

Blessed Sacrament Church, Hollywood , CA

This morning I attended the 11:00 am service at Blessed Sacrament Church in Hollywood, CA where I came to hear organist Hyunju Hwang play the organ. You may remember that it was a year ago last summer that I heard her stunning playing at the Bakersfield AGO convention (see my post “The power of music” to read my reactions to her performance.)  It was soon afterwards that we entered into negotiations to bring her to Hawaii to perform on the annual organ concert series which is scheduled for March 22, 2015 at 2 pm at Central Union Church.

The interior.

The interior.

Blessed Sacrament is another large and very spacious church with the organ in the back gallery. But I have to say that the term “exit hymn” was given new meaning to me at this service. There were the usual Christmas carols and the last one was “Angels we have heard on high.” Four verses were printed in the hymnal, but by the second verse people were leaving in droves, so that by the end of the last verse there was hardly anyone left! I think only a handful of people were left for Hyunju’s postlude, a Noël by Daquin. Never have I seen such an exodus of people during the exit hymn. I don’t think it was because of her playing — apparently this must be the tradition at that church.

A plaque in memory of Richard Keys Biggs, son of E. Power Biggs, was the organist at this church.

A plaque in memory of Richard Keys Biggs, who was the organist at this church. He was the organ teacher of Roger Wagner and Anthony Newman.

The priest also spoke extremely fast — in fact, I don’t think I have ever heard the words of the mass spoken soooo very fast! (Hyunju said there is another priest on staff who speaks even faster!) The Christmas carols were also sung very fast, but as I spoke to Hyunju afterwards, when she first arrived from New Jersey, she thought the hymns were played twice as fast as she was used to, and after playing the introduction at a slower tempo, she was pushed to go faster and faster by the congregation! Fast speaking, fast hymns, this service is for those who can’t wait for it to be over!

Hyunju Hwang took me to lunch after the service.

Hyunju Hwang took me to lunch after the service.

The building though is very beautiful but I must admit I was freezing in there as there is no heat in the winter. With the temperature in the 50s, my hands were like ice cubes at the end of the service. Brrrr!

(Maybe that’s why people were leaving in the middle of the exit hymn!)

About Katherine Crosier

In addition to playing the organ I am interested in documenting life's special moments through journaling, scrapbooking, photography and slideshow production. My family just groans.
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3 Responses to The exit hymn

  1. John Alexander says:

    That’s hilarious! I’ve never heard of a congregation pushing tempos. John McCreary would have liked that! I guess perhaps now you don’t feel so badly about our K-12 rendition of “Go Tell It on the Mountain,” where the students pushed the tempo mercilessly…

  2. Ken Peterson says:

    I think that it is pretty common for Catholic congregations to begin leaving as soon as the celebrant has exited. Knowing this, the more liturgically astute parishes where I have worshipped (either the ordinary or extraordinary form of the Mass) have the last hymn sung by all in place, and then the recession is done during the organ postlude. As a non-Catholic choir director at a Catholic Church in the 1970s, I was shocked when I first saw this “exit hymn” phenomenon.

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