James Marston: When a rush of adrenaline took over during Sunday morning worship

James Marston has taken over as church organist

James Marston has taken over as church organist - Credit: Archant

I’ve never been one for extreme sports though I don’t mind a day at the races, a restful afternoon of croquet or the occasional after-dinner game of snooker.

Anyway, instead of being an adrenaline junkie I’ve largely preferred not to thrill seek. In fact that awful rush of panic you experience when you sleep through your alarm and realise you should have been up and doing an hour ago generally confirms I don’t much like the sudden onslaught of hormones.

But this weekend I found myself experiencing full on panic in the ancient surroundings of the Church of St James in Icklingham in the west of the county.

I have, you see dear readers, been recently appointed as the organist.

Our little congregation is mostly made up of what I describe as the ladies of the village.

And it is in this peaceful and kindly environment where an adrenaline rush is not usually part of Sunday’s service of the word.

This Sunday, however, things were different.

Most Read

My sister Claire had just finished the gospel reading – and even the most devout Christian must admit that St Paul of Tarsus wasn’t that blessed when it comes to literary style – when I slipped into Amazing Grace.

After trying to keep time with the congregation – they sometimes have a somewhat unorthodox idea of the common time signature and have even been known to indulge in an unintentional and idiosyncratic fauxbourdon when the mood takes them – the gradual hymn came to its triumphant end and I thanked the Lord.

This Sunday I was playing the small electronic keyboard rather than the full organ partly because the congregation prefers the intimacy of the chancel between Trinity and Advent and partly because a full organ with the Principal pulled out might, just might, drown out our small-but-dedicated number.

Anyway, I’d just switched off for the moment and was admiring the stained glass window given to the church in memory of an apparently much-loved Victorian lady whose family, I assume, decided to create, when she fell into eternal rest, a strangely blue Mary Magdalene kneeling before what appeared to be a winged Roman god without much on, when I put down my service book on the keyboard.

Suddenly and without warning the keyboard started belting out a terrifyingly loud Bossa Nova beat in direct competition with the vicar who was half way through a liturgical preamble which was, eventually, due to reaffirm our faith in one Holy Catholic and Apostolic church.

A true professional, he carried on regardless.

I, though tempted to ad lib with Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White, managed, after much frantic pressing of little red buttons, to silence the Bossa Nova just in time for the offertory hymn – usually a slow one so the churchwardens can pass the plate round without too much ado.

Unfortunately in my button pressing panic I lost, and only the almighty knows how, the lower octaves of the keyboard leaving Tell Out My Soul (the Woodlands version) somewhat less rousing than usual.

The blessing over, the vicar, a chap with a sense of humour, was heard to remark that if I hadn’t managed to shut off the offending beat he feared he would have to rap The Collect.

If slipping into a wet suit was as easy as it looks and there was no risk of ending up in the Netherlands by mistake I’d take up Sunday morning kite surfing – it might be more relaxing.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter