Music Now!

The one “heads up” my friend did give me was that the priest was a little rigid and liked to stand on formality, but again I knew the order of service and felt confident that we were fully prepared.


About 20 years ago, my brass quartet was asked to play a wedding ceremony at an Episcopal church for one of the trombone players in my big band.

The ceremony was two hours away and it was a dreary rainy day so the members of the quartet decided to carpool.

I was the last stop in the chain so as the group pulls up, I notice my french horn player with a dejected look on his face.

Turns out that just as he was leaving his home, he dropped his folder and all of his music right into a puddle.

It was soaked and barely legible. (some of the charts were my only copies)

As an aside, this guy is a good sport. To prevent future problems, I collected and held onto the books. But then one time we did a wedding and I FORGOT his book. He made up the whole thing as we went along. It was actually quite impressive.

Anyway – we get to the church confident that we’re fully prepared for our duties. There’s no organist for the mass, but I worked out everything ahead of time, including order of mass and music, with my friend the groom.

It was all very detailed and organized.

The one “heads up” my friend did give me was that the priest was a little rigid and liked to stand on formality, but again I knew the order of service and felt confident that we were fully prepared.


After preludes, our first order of business was the processional – The mothers were seated to Jesu Joy of Man’s desiring, and the next thing to play was the Canon in D while the bridesmaids processed down the aisle.

Well it turns out the priest had his own plans to personally lead the procession – no biggie right?

We’re at the front of the church but without great visibility to the back. So there’s a coordinator type person assigned to give me the cue to begin the Canon. He cues – we start playing…and playing…and playing.

We got through two minutes of the piece (it felt like twenty) and nothing was happening – except for a bunch of awkward looks across the quartet and the congregation as nobody is coming up the aisle.

Meanwhile, I look back and the priest is standing there at the end of the aisle but not budging.


I cut the group off – look around and now the priest is staring bullets in my direction.

I look to the coordinator, he shrugs and so I start the Canon AGAIN and the priest dutifully and pompously starts his procession. He was followed, by the groomsmen and the rest of the bridal party.

Turns out that the priest was offended because he wasn’t exactly ready when we got the cue to start the Canon. And so, even though he WAS ready to process 20 seconds into our playing, he decided not to budge until we stopped the piece and started over.

So anyway – we’re into the mass and, as I mentioned, I had worked out with the groom exactly when to play.

One of the discussions was that, in order to keep things moving, he didn’t want music between the first and second reading.

Knowing the Episcopal mass very well, I double checked and he confirmed.


Remember reverend formality?

Well – he had other ideas.

The first reading ends and he’s just sitting there in his chair, again, not budging. Awkward looks abound as nothing is happening. I look at the groom, he looks at me, he looks at the priest and the priest looks in our direction and says in a bellowing voice…

“Music Now!”

Again the chain of looks happens – I raise my eyebrows to the groom, the groom looks at me shakes his head like “no we’re not supposed to have music here”, he looks to the priest with a curious look and the priest again looks to me and bellows, this time in a more booming and assertive voice heard in the next county,


I look at the groom, and he shrugs. (Lot’s of shrugging happening at this wedding)

I scramble – I call a tune from the back of the book as our horn player picks through his soggy music.

And we gave the reverend and the good folks in attendance –


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s