Into the lion’s den

Peter Paul Rubens' "Daniel in the lion's den"

Peter Paul Rubens’ “Daniel in the lion’s den”

Today I was the guest organist at Kilohana Methodist Church, and when I walked in, I felt like I was walking into a lion’s den. You see, it has been just about forty years that I’ve played a service in a non-liturgical church. I was organist/director at Holy Nativity Episcopal Church when I moved to Hawaii in 1973, then was at the Lutheran Church of Honolulu from 1978 to 2012. Since I “retired,” I’ve played at mostly Episcopal churches — St. Christopher’s, St. Clement’s, St. Mark’s, Holy Nativity, and St. Andrew’s Cathedral, and substituted at Our Redeemer Lutheran Church. Plus, I also played at St. Theresa’s Co-Cathedral (Roman Catholic). But Methodist? The last time I played in a Methodist church was in college, at the First United Methodist Church of Van Nuys (now a Korean church).

To add to my apprehension about walking into a strange church, the organist called me last night to say that she would be at the service after all, but I was to go ahead and play because she was going to sit in the congregation! The pressure was on!

What I was surprised to learn was that the order of service was somewhat “liturgical,” because parts of the service were followed immediately by a musical response. They included:

Prelude: Rhosymedre (Vaughan Williams)
Introit: Royal Oak (Dale Wood)
Song of Gathering: Love Now Ascending (NICAEA)
Sung Response following Confession: Give Me a Clean Heart (DOUROUX)
Special Music: Though I May Speak (O WALY WALY) – Dale Wood
Hymn: God, You Love the World (ARGENTINA)
Offertory: Simple gifts (Wilbur Held)
Prayer Hymn: I will trust in the Lord (I WILL TRUST) – AfroAmerican spiritual
Personal Prayer background music: Sweet Hour of Prayer (Dale Wood)
Song of Scattering: When there is no Star (HYMN TO JOY)
Benediction: Go, Now in Peace (Don Besig)
Postlude: Pisgah (Dale Wood)

As you can see, I decided to stick with easy-listening, American composers and ended up playing altogether thirteen pieces (count ’em!) as the choir had the Sunday off. (That’s why I played organ music instead of a choral introit and anthem.) Thankfully, everything went perfectly fine, and I was glad that I had come during the week to familiarize myself with the organ and to set my pistons. (See my earlier post on my piston strategy: “Old tricks vs. something new“). But after all, I’ve been a church organist for almost fifty years! (Egad!)

Only one funny thing happened when I first walked into the church. One of the parishioners came to the organ console and said, “Did someone tell you that you’re supposed to play ‘Melancholy Baby?’ ” (Yikes!)

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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4 Responses to Into the lion’s den

  1. John Alexander says:

    You are so amazing!! Even the Methodists couldn’t throw you for a loop! 🙂

  2. Duanna Rasey Ulyate says:

    I was pleasantly surprised to come across your article on Maitre Dupre. Dr. Wright was my mother’s teacher and my first piano and voice teacher when I started while still in Jr High. I studied for a full summer intensively with Dr. Wright in Montecito before attending CSUN and attended the Music Academy of the West. My mother remembers Maitre Dupre and his wife coming over for concerts at FUMC in Hollywood. My father Uan Rasey, contracted the orchestra–he was principal at MGM. I went on to sing professionally with the LA Master Chorale and LA Opera and married a trumpet played I met while doing the opera.

    It is so refreshing to see this article and know that there are still organists that continue a great legacy–I have spoken to Fred Swann and Bill Beck about Dr. Wright and thank you for this lovely article. I do have the choir booklet from a long time ago (it was my mother’s) with pics of Dr. Wright and Maitre Dupre at the organ in the choir loft.

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