Volunteer Organist, The
DESCRIPTION: The preacher announces that the organist is ill. No one volunteers to play except a drunken-looking man. He tells his story in music, amazing them all. The preacher doesn't try to preach; he just has the congregation pray as the man leaves
AUTHOR: Words: William B. Gray ("Glenroy") (died 1932) / Music: Henry Lamb
EARLIEST DATE: 1927 (Randolph)
KEYWORDS: music clergy
FOUND IN: US(So)
REFERENCES (2 citations):
Randolph 826, "The Volunteer Organist" (1 text)
Spaeth-ReadWeep, pp. 191-192, "[The Volunteer Organist]" (1 excerpt)
John McGhee, "The Volunteer Organist" (Champion 15483, 1928)
NOTES: Spaeth (A History of Popular Music in America, p. 271) calls this "the sport of 1893," and goes on to detail how it spawned a play of the same title -- as well as a short-lived rush to produce imitations.
I suspect that the most popular imitation (indeed, the only one still remembered at all) is Myra Brooks Welch's "The Touch of the Master's Hand." Welch was born in 1877, according to Internet sources, and wrote her piece in 1921, which fits.
The author of the lyrics, William B. Gray, is also responsible for "She's More to Be Pitied Than Censured." - RBW
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