I don’t regard myself as a Church musician by any stretch of the imagination, but there have been moments when I have been roped into performing the music at important rites of passage services. One of those was when I asked to play at a friend’s wedding, outside of London. I visited the small community on a reconnoitre mission, but didn’t get to see the actual temple until the day of the service.
The Church was several centuries old, but in pretty good condition. I could see why my friend and his spouse to be decided to get hitched in there. The catch in the situation was that the Church’s organ was also very mature. It needed air to be frequently pumped into it, to sustain long notes and passages.
On the Wedding Day, I arrived at the temple with butterflies in my tummy. Obviously I wanted to do the best I could for the couple about to get married, but I don’t regard myself as a serious organist and there were several things I needed to work on. It was at this moment that I was introduced to the woman who did the pumping of air into the instrument.
I wanted to warm up, so I could feel relaxed enough to perform well, so once we exchanged pleasantries, I asked if she could pump the organ, to enable me to get sounds out of it. She was helpful enough and so we got down to business.
There was something epic about the time we spent together. During the actual service, the vicar would announce the moment to sing each hymn and everyone would hear the pumping sounds which were needed for me to play the introduction. Needless to say, I had the poor woman working for a considerable length of time. At the end of the service, her parting words to me were “You tired me out!” It was rather exposed and humbling experience for me.