Music in the Church

Music in the Church

With the decline of traditional music in pubs - caused in part by the decline in drinking culture, stricter drink-driving laws and the intrusion of sports television into every pub in Ireland - the music needs to find new places to flourish.

A venerable gentleman in Galway has come up with the idea of music in the church and has been running sessions in St Nicholas of Myra in that city with much success. Here’s a link: http://www.tunesinthechurch.com/

It would be a great thing if other churches could also be used for similar events. There are hundreds of fine buildings throughout the country with great acoustics and, let’s face it, with dwindling customers.

I was at a funeral recently for a musician in a local church and there was a great session with half a dozen relatives and friends belting out jigs and reels between the prayers and the readings and it was a wonderful thing. It means that the Catholic Church has no objection in principle to allowing music in its churches and all we need is the spark.

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For a couple of years, we had a monthly session at a church. It allowed us to bring snacks and alcohol. My session mates and I love play at churches during services several times a year. Both have worked great for us.

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They get used a lot down our way for different musical events ( St Endellion has become a bit of a venue) In fact when the council shut the town theatre at short notice, the local church in Bodmin stepped in to save a great production of "Oliver" by lending them the church over the weekend as long as it was cleared for the Sunday service.
Parish halls and community centres are good locations too and are often under used and could do with the fundraising help.
We quite often perform as a mandolin orchestra in a church in Okehampton.
It just takes building trust and a diplomatic approach.

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It’s that danged sports-establishment culture. I haven’t been anywhere where that type of activity hasn’t obliterated everything around it. I guess I’ll just wait a few more years and hang around the shuffle board area.

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Got the impression that the ‘Tunes in the Church’ thing were more like concerts or gigs than sessions i.e. for punters. Also have the backing of the redoubtable Rev Gary Hastings, who I think started the idea?

On the contrary side, you hear of bishops making pronouncements that only liturgical music can be played at funerals in some dioceses and that things are getting out of hand as regards what families choose. Mixed messages at best, might all come down to the local clergy and bishop in that area.

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Will there be a bar in the church?

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"It allowed us to bring snacks and alcohol" seems likelier for some denominations, and nations, than others.

That said, I’m a Methodist church musician from southern Indiana and I’ve used The Music in services for years. Reels, jigs, slow airs, the whole lot. They love it. No booze, though.

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Yeah, the alcohol thing would only work in select church cultures, but I would love to see the music in church, both in an informal fellowship/session form and as a part of services themselves.

Of course, the rather small(ish) city I live in now already has a weekly session, so no real need to try and start one in a church at this point.

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We should also distinguish between churches and church halls. The latter are have long been used for social gatherings including music events and alcohol is often available depending on the event.
Usually, they are are attached to the church itself or can be located nearby.

There does seem to be more use of actual churches themselves these days for certain events and I can understand why there might be an issue with alcohol although, even there, a "glass of wine" is becoming more acceptable.

I’m talking about Scotland here. Not sure about other parts of The UK or elsewhere…

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"That said, I’m a Methodist church musician from southern Indiana and I’ve used The Music in services for years. Reels, jigs, slow airs, the whole lot. They love it…"

Same here. My wife and I sometimes play ITM on our dulcimers at church service. I’ve done Innisheer as a solo, and recently we played together Planxty Hewlett and Harvest Home. In fact, a lot of ITM, if played at the proper tempo, would be quite appropriate for a church service at most denominations, as long as the congregation is tolerant of secular music in church. But to get back to the O.P., that’s an interesting idea and I have entertained the notion of getting a few or our congregation’s strummers, blowers, and strikers together into a monthly or weekly meeting for fun and potentially playing in church.

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Sounds like a good approach. I played "Crested Hens" at service this last Sunday on the hammered dulcimer. Expanding that to a session would be tough where I live and not just because it’s a "me vs. them" for the Irish music players in town (they took the session we had and made it a band and I chose not to join). No sirree, it’s because the pastor at my church is a lovely individual that really, really - likes his whiskey tasting and he’d probably stipulate that I’d "donate" the remains of my bottle of Midleton Dair Ghaelach to the cause.

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Callison, my wife and I are working on that same piece, with her accompanying me on her guitar while I play the melody on the hammer dulcimer, playing it in E minor. And with the same intention of playing it in a church service soon. What a small world!
(BTW I played Innisheer last March as a dedication to St. Patrick’s Day.)

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"tolerant of secular music in church." There’s all kinds of completely secular classical music that gets played in churches all the time. I fail to see why ITM should be any different, if offered up in the right spirit.

I did get a couple raised eyebrows the time the assistant pastor preached on Jesus turning water into wine and I played the Beer Barrel Polka….

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Just play "Is it the priest you want."

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Or "Musial Priest."

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This was all done hundreds of years ago - West Gallery music.
Take a look at: http://www.wgma.org.uk/Articles/intro.htm
Our folk group band often play in local Catholic churches here in France, sadly mainly for friend’s funerals.

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I wasn’t thinking of music for religious ceremonies or masses but rather to use these great, acoustic buildings for sessions or concerts. I notice that some in my county are being used as libraries and even converted into flats which is a terrible waste in my opinion.

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Tomorrow night, Sat March 16th at St Colman’s Church, KInvara, Co Galway, there will be a traditional concert - with Eugene Lamb, the piper, among others - and I think this is the first time a Catholic church has been used for a wholly secular musical event.

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I played the uilleann pipes for a friend’s wedding. The groom wanted part of the service in Gaelige, so a priest from Limerick was found. The bride insisted on being piped to the altar to O’Sullivan’s March, which is the air to I Won’t Be a Nun. The priest, taken unawares, nearly got the giggles.

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Hold everything! I’ve just learned that the concert in Kinvara is not in the church but in the Community Centre. It’s in aid of the church building. Sorry!