Moments of humor that
only a church musician can appreciate....
E-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org to note any unacknowledged credits, or to send more goodies to post on this page. These gems were fished out of e-mail traffic from various e-mail organ related list-server discussion groups.
Bach Prelude and Fugue: Organist
French Toccata: Organist is very happy
French Toccata at double speed: Organist went to pub during sermon
Improvisation on hymn: Organist has lost glasses
Improvisation on popular song: Organist has lost temper
Long chord cluster: Organist has gone to sleep
Silence: Organist has gone to pub
These may be old, but the're still good:
"When I grow up, I want to be a
"Now, honey, you can't do both."
"What is the difference between a
savings bond and a musician?"
"The savings bond matures and usually earns money."
"How do you know that a vocalist
is at your front door?"
"She forgot the key and doesn't know when to come in."
"How do you get a lead guitarist
in the band to stop playing?"
"You put sheet music in front of him."
"What do you call someone who
hangs out with a group of
Sir Thomas Beecham to a musician during a rehearsal: "We cannot expect you to be with us all the time, but perhaps you could be good enough to keep in touch now and again."
Somewhat more "organic" tales:
There are two kinds of organists who pay meticulous attention to "counting", ...beginers and professionals.
Thomas Attwood, organist of St. Paul's Cathedral early in the nineteenth-century, was once told by Canon Sydney Smith, "You organists are like overworked cab horses -- always looking for another stop!"
Mark Lee, as quoted in a British magazine, said while speaking at Bristol Cathedral: "Cathedral organists are the ones who don't actually play the organ; their assistants do the playing. I suppose you could say that by definition a cathedral organist is one who used to be good enough to be an assistant."
In the 1830's, at the inauguration of the gargantuan organ of the Birmingham Town Hall,
the Lord Mayor famously introduced the concert to the assembled dignitaries by saying,
"And now, the organ will play." Whereupon, of course, it did not.
Eventually His Honor caught on and revised the introduction,
"And now, the municipal organist will play the organ." And he DID!
Told by Barry Rose at the Music
for the Church conference,
April 2002, Saint Thomas Church NYC:
When he was the organist-choirmaster at Saint Paul's Cathedral, London, he was to meet Noel Mander to get a tour of Mander's shop. This is housed in what used to be the parochial school of Saint Peter's Church. Consequently, the building is now called Saint Peter's Organ Works. While driving to this meeting, Barry was having a little trouble finding the address, although he thought he was in the general neighborhood. So he rolled down the window and called to man standing at the side of the street, "Do you know St. Peter's Organ Works?" The bystander, doubtless rather puzzled at such a question, said, "So does mine!"
Little bats, flying high,
dropping messages from the sky,
the priest looked up and wiped his eye,
praising God that cows don't fly.
A C, an E-flat, and a G go into a bar. The bartender says, "Sorry, we don't
serve minors." So the E-flat leaves, and the C and the G have an open fifth
between them. After a few drinks, the fifth is diminished and the G is out
An F comes in and tries to augment the situation, but is not sharp enough. A
D comes into the bar and heads straight for the bathroom saying, "Excuse me.
I'll just be a second."
Then an A comes into the bar, but the bartender is not convinced that this
relative of C is not a minor.
Then the bartender notices a B-flat hiding at the end of the bar and
exclaims, "Get out now. You're the seventh minor I've found in this bar
The E-flat, not easily deflated, comes back to the bar the next night in a
3-piece suit with nicely shined shoes. The bartender (who used to have a
nice corporate job until his company downsized) says, "You're looking sharp
tonight, come on in! This could be a major development."
This proves to be the case, as the E-flat takes off the suit, and everything
else, and stands there au natural.
Eventually, the C sobers up, and realizes in horror that he's under a rest.
The C is brought to trial, is found guilty of contributing to the diminution
of a minor, and is sentenced to 10 years of DS without Coda at an upscale
correctional facility. On appeal, however, the C is found innocent of any
wrongdoing, even accidental, and that all accusations to the contrary are
The bartender decides, however, that since he's only had tenor so patrons,
and the sopranout in the bathroom, everything has become altoo much treble;
he needs a rest, and closes the bar.
...courtesy of Erich Wolz.
We look forward to your performance at our daughter's wedding. If you don't mind, we would like to request a few of our favorite songs. Please play these during the reception:
A Keith Jarrett composition from his solo series. Please arrange it for full ensemble in the keyof B but nothing in 4/4 please.
Mahavishnu Orchestra, "Dance of the Maya" and please have the guitarist play John Mclaughlin's solo from the live performance Nov. 16, 1972 at Chrysler Arena. My wife and I were at that show and we liked his use of polyrhythms.
One of John Coltrane's duets with Pharaoh Sanders. Our guests love high register tenor saxes.
We thought a little Stravinsky right after the toast would be nice. So please play "The Rite of Spring." We like a tempo of about 1/4 note = 93 and transpose it down 3 half-steps - it will be so much more appropriate for this occasion in the slightly lower register.
Then for the candle lighting ceremony, please play Frank Zappa's "The Grand Wazoo." The original key of B flat, would be fine but my cousin Jeannie would like to sing the baritone sax solo in the key of D--she has kind of a high voice.
When my new son-in-law takes off the garter, please just a little of Varese's "Ionization." It's such a funny piece, we think it would go over real well. Much better than "The Stripper."
And for the bride and groom's first dance, please slow things down a bit by doing Barber's "Adagio For Strings." It's so much better than "We've Only Just Begun" or the "Anniversary Waltz."
When my wife and I join in the first dance, could you segue to Thelonius Monk's "Ruby, My Dear" - it's in honor of my wife's grandmother whose name was Ruby. It would mean so much to the family.
Thanks for all your help. Depending on the outcome we'll certainly be happy to recommend your band to our friends We'll have your check for the fee of $250 (minus our expenses in contacting you of $12.50 ) by the end of next month: we're a little short as the young lady doing the balloon arch wanted her $1,850 in advance and the DJ had to be paid up front his $2,500 as normal. Our daughter assured us that your love of music was greater than your need for money, and that you would welcome the exposure you would get from playing this wedding.
Before you leave, please feel free to ask the caterer for a snack sandwich and a soda (the bottles are returnable or you can pay the deposit to the butler). Please use the back entrance to avoid disturbing the guests.
Alice Rockefeller Gates
On Saturday, the fifth of August, at well after the stated time of 2:00 P.M., Ann Jones and Bob Smith were married at Our Lady of Sorry Acoustics. The groom wore a black suit and the bride wore a dress. The organist's shoes, in tasteful basic black, were by Organmaster.
The organ is a rebuild by Harvey Piston Schotz VI of a 2m Whisk which contains pipework from the original Ox tracker that existed before the tragic fire. The harmonic flute is to die for and the cor anglais is like buttah, but the combination action is unreliable.
There were attendants all over the place, but the organist still got only 3/4 of the way through "The Prince of Denmark's March" with no repeats, ending in the dominant. That the 8' Tuba was the central feature of the processional was obvious; this could be seen on the smiling faces of everyone in attendance.
After a few minutes of some
speaking by some clergy-type,
the organist played the first four phrases of the Schubert "Ave Maria"
(in E-flat) on the Gemshorn 8' while the couple did something. Later,
bride's sister's best friend's adopted niece breathily sang "The
Song" from the balcony,
without interludes. (The organist left them in.) This didn't matter because she used the microphone, obliterating the subtle chiff of the Gedeckt 8'.
The recessional was the Mendelssohn, played on a satisfying plenum. It was played in ABABA form to fit the length of the movement.
The guests talked throughout the
postlude, but the organist
added stops as the noise level increased, masterfully maneuvering each
drawknob, coupler, and reversible WITHOUT MISSING A SINGLE NOTE OF THE
WIDOR!!! This noble feat did not go unnoticed by the congregation, as
the audible sighs of relief which were heard as soon as the music stopped.
The bride and groom went to college somewhere, but they did not take any music appreciation courses. After their honeymoon somewhere, they plan to blend into suburbia, where the highlight of each year will undoubtedly be the replaying of their wedding video and reliving each musical moment.
The Dentist's Hymn:
................. Crown Him with Many
The Weatherman's Hymn: ......... There Shall Be Showers of Blessings
The Contractor's Hymn: ............ The Church's One Foundation
The Tailor's Hymn: ................... Holy, Holy, Holy
The Golfer's Hymn: ................... There's a Green Hill Far Away
The Politician's Hymn: ............... Standing on the Promises
The Optometrist's Hymn: ........... Open My Eyes That I Might See
The IRS Agent's Hymn: ............. I Surrender All
The Gossip's Hymn: .................. Pass It On
The Electrician's Hymn: ............. Send The Light
The Shopper's Hymn: ................ Sweet By and By
The Realtor's Hymn: .................. I've Got a Mansion, Just Over the Hilltop
The Massage Therapists Hymn: .. He Touched Me
The Doctor's Hymn: .................. The Great Physician
For those who speed on the highway - a few hymns:
.......................... God Will Take Care
55 mph: .......................... Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah
65 mph: .......................... Nearer My God To Thee
75 mph: .......................... Nearer Still Nearer
85 mph: .......................... This World Is Not My Home
95 mph: .......................... Lord, I'm Coming Home
and over 100 mph: ........... Precious Memories
Church feuds are not uncommon,
especially among cliques
the congregation. But when the "preacher" and choir get into it,
One week our preacher preached
on commitment, and
how we should dedicate
ourselves to service. The director then led the choir in singing, 'I Shall
Not Be Moved.'
The next Sunday, the preacher
preached on giving
and how we should gladly
give to the work of the Lord. The choir director then led the song, 'Jesus
Paid It All.'
The next Sunday, the preacher
preached on gossiping
and how we should
watch our tongues. The hymn was 'I Love To Tell The Story.'
The preacher became disgusted
over the situation,
and the next Sunday he
told the congregation he was considering resigning. The choir then sang
'Oh, Why Not Tonight.'
When the preacher resigned the
next week, he told
the church that Jesus
had led him there and Jesus was taking him away. The choir then sang,
'What A Friend We Have in Jesus.'
...courtesy of Erich Wolz.
Top Ten Reasons for Being a Soprano
10) The rest of the choir exists
just to make you look
09) You can entertain your friends by breaking their wine glasses.
08) Can you name an opera where an Alto got the man?
07) When sopranos want to sing in the shower, they know the tune.
06) It's not like you are ever going to sing the Alto part by accident.
05) Great costumes like the hat with the horns on it.
04) How many world famous Altos can you name?
03) When the fat lady sings, she's usually singing Soprano.
02) When you get tired of singing the tune, you can sing the descant.
01) You can sing along with Michael Jackson.
10) You don't have to tighten
your shorts to reach your
09) You don't have to worry about a woman stealing your job.
08) Or a pre-adolescent boy.
07) Action heroes are always Basses. That is if they ever sang, they would sing Bass.
06) You get great memorable lyrics like bop, bop, bop, bop.
05) If the singing job doesn't work out, there's always broadcasting.
04) You never need to learn to read the treble clef.
03) If you get a cold, so what.
02) For fun, you can sing at the bottom of your range and fool people into thinking there's an earthquake.
01) If you belch while you're singing, the audience just thinks it's part of the score.
10) Tenors get high without drugs.
09) Name a musical where the Bass got the girl.
08) You can show the Sopranos how it SHOULD be sung.
07) Did you ever hear of anyone paying $1000 for a ticket to see the 3 Basses?
06) Who needs brains when you've got resonance?
05) Tenors never have to waste time looking through the self-improvement section of the bookstore.
04) You get to sing along with John Denver singing High Calypso.
03) When you get really good at falsetto, you can make tons of money doing voice-overs for cartoon characters.
02) Gregorian chant was practically invented for Tenors. Nobody invented a genre for Basses.
01) You can entertain your friends by impersonating Julia Child.
10) You get really good at
singing E flat.
09) You get to sing the same note for 12 consecutive measures.
08) You don't really need to warm up to sing 12 consecutive bars of E flat.
07) If the choir really sucks, it's unlikely the Altos will be blamed.
06) You have lots of time to chat during Soprano solos.
05) You get to pretend that you are better than the Sopranos, because everybody knows that women only sing soprano so they don't have to learn to read music.
04) You can sometimes find part time work singing Tenor.
03) Altos get all the great intervals.
02) When the Sopranos are holding some outrageously high note at the end of an anthem, the Altos always get the last words.
01) When the Altos miss a note, nobody gets hurt.
It’s tough to be an
alto when you’re singing in the choir.
The sopranos get the twiddly bits that people all admire.
The basses boom like loud trombones, the tenors shout with glee,
But the alto part is on two notes (or if you’re lucky, three).
And when we sing an anthem and we
lift our heart in praises
The men get all the juicy bits and telling little phrases.
Of course the trebles sing the tune – they always come off best;
The altos only get three notes and twenty-two bars rest.
We practise very hard each week
from hymn-book and the
But when the conductor looks at us our voices start to falter.
Too high! Too low! Too fast! You held that note too long!
It doesn’t matter what we do – it’s certain to be wrong.
Oh! Shed a tear for altos,
they’re the martyrs and they
In the ranks of choral singers they’re considered very low.
They are so very ‘umble that a lot of folk forget ‘em;
How they’d love to be sopranos, but their vocal chords won’t let em!
And when the final trumpet sounds
and we are wafted higher,
Sopranos, basses, tenors – they’ll be in the Heavenly Choir.
While they sing “Alleluia” to celestial flats and sharps,
The altos will be occupied with polishing the harps!
Ya'll Know Yours Is A Redneck Church If ...
finance committee refuses to provide
funds for the purchase of a chandelier because none of the members
how to play one.
2. People ask, when they learn that Jesus fed the 5000, whether the two fish were bass or catfish, and what bait was used to catch 'em.
3. When the pastor says, "I'd like to ask Bubba to help take up the offering," and five guys and two women stand up.
4. Opening day of deer season is recognized as an official church holiday.
5. A member of the church requests to be buried in his 4-wheel-drive truck because "It ain't never been in a hole it couldn't get out of."
6. The choir is known as the "OK Chorale."
7. Boone's Farm "Tickle Pink" is the favorite wine for communion.
8. In a congregation of 500 members, there are only seven last names in the church directory.
9. Baptism is referred to as "branding."
10. There is a special fund raiser for a new church septic tank.
11. Finding and returning lost sheep isn't just a parable.
12. High notes on the organ set the dogs on the floor to howling.
13. People think "rapture" is what you get when you lift something too heavy.
14. The baptismal font is a #2 galvanized washtub.
15. The choir robes were donated by and embroidered with the logo from Billy Bob's Barbecue.
16. The collection plates are really hub caps from a '56 Chevy.
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