even if you pedalled away at top speed!  I suppose we inherited it from someone who had it in their front parlour.  It was hard work pedalling away, as Barbara Roe will also attest, and advisable not to wear your overcoat as you got very hot in the process.  We did try an electric harmonium, but the ‘sound’ did not seem right for the Church, so we did not keep it for long.  It was my ambition for the Church to have a pipe organ, which I hoped would be before I got married - but it was not to be.  However, we did have an organ given to us by All Saints Church, Harpenden, which was installed in 1969 situated close to the North Door, and it wasn’t too long before we had the opportunity of obtaining an organ built for us by Leighton Organs in 1972 which was far superior and is the one we still use.  In the 1950’s, Archibald Chase would sometimes play his violin, and in latter years we have had the Music Group of guitarists who play for the Family Services.  So much for instruments.

Music is an art which some of us possess and some of us do not.  Others may not be competent with an instrument, but can nonetheless be very appreciative of music in its many forms.  The art of a player of music, whatever the instrument, is to be able to express one’s feelings whilst playing, which in turn can inspire the listener to great depths of pleasure.  If a piece is played without feeling, then one can be left completely unmoved.  Here in St Margaret’s we have been very fortunate with the many musicians who have played for our services.  Some have come and gone, but others have stood the test of time, and voluntarily stayed with us and given us so much pleasure with the way in which they have interpreted the services.  We have been stirred with compassion, or rejoiced at celebrations, and if we have been very still and quiet before the service, we have been rewarded with a rendition after the service fit for royalty!  Brian Sturgess and Peter Freeman was and is respectively two very notable organists of our time, and have, together with the choir, over the years, enhanced the music to greater heights.  Marian Hibbert has been our stand-by organist for almost 40 years, filling in when required.

Have you ever given any thought to the organist and what it means to be one?  You have to sit on a sloping bench to play, and if you are not using the foot pedals then your legs and feet have to be wrapped around the supports of the bench in case they accidentally touch the pedals and make a sound you would rather not have heard!  That is the first thing.  Then there is the huge array of ’stops’ which will or will not play the sound you want it to produce, or one couples with another you would rather not hear either.  Unless someone is very friendly, you have to put the hymn numbers up on the board, but if someone has kindly put them up, are they the correct ones?  Oh yes, it can and does happen that they aren’t the correct ones, or you forget to put them up and those on the boards are for the previous service!

Speaking of hymns - thankfully we don’t have psalms any longer, and they really were a pain to play for - is the tune in the hymn book given out to the congregation the one they know, or do you need to play the tune from another hymn book, or find another tune with the St. Margaret's Church Streatley - News - Memories of St Margaret's - Memories of St Margaret's - Two Very Memorable Churchwardens
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Memories of St Margaret's - Church Music

Church records show that repairs were carried out to the ‘harmonica’ in 1895, and again in 1911, there was a hired organ, with 2 organists and a ‘Blower’.  (That they should be so lucky.)  Now from my memory there was a harmonium with foot pedals after the restoration in 1938, and depending how much one pedalled it determined the quantity of sound you could get out of it.  Hence if you had someone elderly playing you were lucky to hear the tune, but if you had someone younger, you could try to raise the roof!  When I played for Evensong for many years before I got married, we had several harmoniums to up-date our music as the very old one was too quiet correct metre to fit in with the words and phraseology?  If you have to choose the hymns, then set aside quite a time while you take in what the readings and theme of the service is going to be, so that the correct theme runs through the hymns you choose.

Who is taking the service?  Do they do anything different to the usual set up?  If so, then watch out for when the responses have to be played because, if you are not concentrating 100% you could miss giving the intro, or note.  Also, where you sit you cannot see the altar or behind you - no we don’t have smoke and mirrors to do this - so it is very useful to have a friendly soul who will give you a nod or a wink when they are ready to process back down the aisle so you can play to fit in, and will they walk slowly to fit in with what you have to play, or will they land up there and you are still playing in the middle of a phrase and it is difficult to end off?  It is also very difficult when playing for a wedding.  You cannot see what is going on behind you and, if it is someone you know, you probably want to see what the bride looks like, but never get the opportunity to see her.  Can you imagine also what it is like to play for a funeral, especially if it is for someone to whom you were very close?  Playing for services can be very emotional and draining and unless you have done it, no one would appreciate what you experience.  However, it is all good fun should you wish to try it sometime.  But just be thankful and appreciate the fact that an organist turns up and if so, be sure to thank them for what they have done.

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