On Sundays here we have two services, like many parishes of this persuasion -- paid organist, choir, modern liturgy at the later service; and at the early service the old Prayer Book, no choir...but, most unusually, a volunteer organist of very long service, over twenty-five years.
Each week he picks two hymns, one for an Offertory and one for a Recessional. He plays some hymn tunes by way of prelude; accompanies the Sanctus and the Agnus Dei, and plays during communion and during the ablutions. Most Sundays -- it's a nice example of "tacit bargaining" -- he and I come to the end of the ablutions neck and neck: he finds the tonic chord just as I set the burse back on top of the Sacred Stack.
And his music is GOOD: the offertory hymn is often an effective precis of what the sermon was supposed to be...his accompaniments are sensitive and restrained...his selections always seasonally apt.
Unfortunately, his health is NOT good: arthritis, asthma, diabetes...and what with ongoing physical discomfort, and plenty of practice, his outlook is usually of such gloom that Eeyore is a Mexican Jumping Bean in comparison.
Matters came to a head about a month ago; he was too ill to come in and play for us one Sunday, and later that week I had a carefully typed letter from him resigning his post as of December 30th, Advent and Christmas being his very favourite seasons, hymnodically speaking.
But last week he asked whether he could prepare a Processional Hymn for December 30th, as well as the usual two; and this afternoon he met me in the hallway and said, "You know that letter I sent you? Could I ... have it back?"
I said I thought he could; we both had recourse to our handkerchiefs; and then he went and practised on the organ, and if ever I heard happiness in music, that was it.
God is entirely good, and the people of God have their moments too.