A Musician's Warranty

Dr Iain B Galbraith

Presidential Address to the Church Service Society, May 2014 by Dr Iain B Galbraith

The title came from a poem by the 11th century musical theoretician, Guido d’Arrezzo, who foreshadowed by 8 centuries the pioneering work of the 19th century developers of tonic-solfa notation. In the address, the author charts his journey as a church musician, recalling his childhood in Bonhill Old Church where his forebears had been precentors, his education in the Vale of Leven and the Royal Scottish Academy of Music, but where his ‘warranty’ also included a developing interest in theology. An organist from the age of 14, continued in Renton, Knightsbridge, Rhu, and Kelvinside Hillhead in Glasgow. A major influence was the person and the music of J S Bach, whose warranty also combined music and theology. He concludes with a reflection on contemporary music in the church, which he sees as derived from ‘culture for the mass rather than for the people’ (Bernard Levin) and lacks two indissoluble components: offering and mystery. (To this address, the Editor has appended a hymn tune he discovered in an old collection of tunes by W R Broomfield named ‘Shandon’ which is in the parish of Rhu.)

Volume 49 2014