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Hundreds of years of church music honoured

North Rockhampton Uniting Church Minister Rev Bernie Jarius presenting Olga Harris with her certificate

Playing a pedal organ powered by a vacuum cleaner was one of the hundreds of years of cumulative experience for the retired and current musicians honoured recently at North Rockhampton Uniting Church.

Two current organists topped more than fifty years each in enhancing the congregation's worship with their music and in some cases the awards were presented to the family members of former organists.

Lyn McLean (nee Wilkings) was a quiet 12 year old waiting for her Circuit Steward father to complete his duties at Archer St Methodist Church in Rockhampton when she was encouraged by Alan Morrison ( a church organist before he became an ordained minister) to "have a go" on the Hammond organ. Without his encouragement Lyn would not have become an organist and the church would have been deprived of this gift of over fifty years service.

Olga Harris said her first experience as a young very shy teenager in Roma Methodist Church was on an organ that required pumping the pedals.

"The style of music has changed – in the early days music was chosen from Alexanders, the Sunday School Hymnbook and the Methodist Hymn Book.

"Later we were excited by 20th Century hymns: the Australian Hymn Book, Together in Song, choruses, Graham Kendrick, etc. have all helped us to make music in church more relevant to the needs and concerns of the worshipping community."

Ms Harris said she looks forward to the words and music of the future as it reflects the changes in our understanding of what the Church believes.

"All hymns were finished off with 'Amen' and this was not always in the music and often I faced mild panic having to make one up on the spot in the correct key; but which verse are we up to?

"This was a special problem if the tune was not the set one. Watching the body language of the singers often saved the day.

"Just as people in the Congregation plan to continue going to worship while physical and mental health continue, so will I continue to express my faith and love for God by accompanying the singing on organ or piano and by teaching students who may themselves find music ministry to be what they can do in whatever denomination they worship."

Photo : North Rockhampton Uniting Church Minister Rev Bernie Jarius presenting Olga Harris with her certificate