Archive for December, 2013

How to respect your ward organist

December 1, 2013

So I’ve decided to take a month off from church, but I thought it would be wise to give some feedback that may help others in the future.

Here are the 8 laws for Bishopric Members to follow to respect your ward organist.

1.) Provide hymn choices at least a month in advance.
2.) Respect that there are some songs we cannot play (well), and that there are some songs we refuse to play.
3.) Do not constantly drop all of the verses except one.
4.) Do not stand up at the beginning or middle of a prelude song, wait till near the end and politely wait for the organist to finish the verse.
5.) As the handbook instructs, do not talk or greet people, relay messages, or converse before the meeting.
6.) Do not assume everyone is OK with being asked to play or direct a hymn at a moments notice; not all of us accept mediocrity, and preparation helps dispel mediocrity.
7.) Allow organists latitude for prelude, instruct them that “If musical selections other than hymns are used, they should be in keeping with the spirit of the hymns. Texts should be doctrinally correct.” Allow them as much latitude as they want, inasmuch as they understand that principle.
8.) Barring major accidents and disasters, call/write in advance if something is changing or someone is unavailable to fulfill their calling/assignment. Simply not coming is not very respectful.

1.) Provide hymn choices at least a month in advance.
Why is it important to choose hymns a month in advance? Because not all of us are professional musicians, who can play anything at a moments notice. The LDS Church handbook of instruction asks for the music to be chosen well in advance.

3.) Do not constantly drop all of the verses except one.
Whether time runs out because a meeting is poorly planned (too many speakers), the speakers are poorly instructed (they take more time than allotted), or too many people come up after the meeting time ends during Testimony meeting, does NOT mean you take that time out on the hymns. Hymns often tell a story, whose meaning is destroyed when one blindly cuts all of the verses except the first verse. Often the first verse is NOT the best verse. If you’re going to reduce the number of verses sung, please do so intelligently.
Also, do not simply dictatorially announce fewer verses. There may be extenuating circumstances that would do a lot of harm in so doing. Ask if it would be alright, and accept that it might not. The organist might suggest swapping a hymn rather than cutting all than the first verse.
The handbook specifically states: “Do not routinely shorten a hymn by singing just the first one or two verses. Singing the verses printed below the music is encouraged.”
In some cases it may be better to forego a musical piece rather than shortening it.

4.) Do not stand up at the beginning or middle of a prelude song. Some Bishopric members seem to be completely clueless as to what’s happening with regards to prelude. I don’t really care if you listen or not, but it is better for everyone, and it looks more professional and planned out if the conducting member stands near the end of a prelude piece.

5.) As the handbook instructs, do not talk or greet people, relay messages, or converse before the meeting. I’ve watched several times as the Bishop has reminded the ward that they are in the chapel. I’ve noted the irony that many ward members simply follow the example of their leaders in conversing, planning, transmitting messages, etc. The Handbook states that: “Leaders set an example of reverence during the time before sacrament meeting. The bishopric and the speakers should be in their seats at least five minutes before the meeting begins. This is not a time for conversation or transmitting messages. Setting an example of reverence encourages the congregation to be spiritually prepared for a worshipful experience. Members should be taught to make the time before sacrament meeting a period of prayerful meditation as they prepare spiritually for the sacrament.”

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