The Organ

Reginald Frary: Hearts to Heaven and Tempers Raise

Reginald Frary: Hearts to Heaven and Tempers Raise
Canterbury Press.
ISBN 1-85311-666-1

Subtitled ‘choirstalls and other places where angels fear to tread’, this paperback is the fourth volume of Reginald Frary’s reminiscences of life as a church chorister over 50 years. I have not read the previous three volumes, but I hope to do so now, for I found this handy pocket-sized paperback very entertaining. Each chapter is a little story in its own right and as an anthology can be dipped into at any time one has a spare 5-10 minutes. All human life is here, and there are many characters and situations easily recognisable and eminently well known to those of us who have had anything to do with church choirs, organs, organists and vicars: cats, cricket, councils, chorales, clocks, choirs – you name it, Frary refers to it. He covers the whole gamut from lady curates to horse troughs! The reforming zeal of ‘modern’ vicars is one recurring theme; obstinate organists are another; internecine strife within the church an inevitable third! Frary writes well and his text is a comfortable read. He has the wonderful knack of capturing the reader from the first sentence of each chapter and keeping the attention right the end with some lovely ‘stings in the tail’ at the end of each little story. Frary sees the funny side of the ordinary, the commonplace and even the mundane. There is much about his commonsense philosophy that we could all with benefit apply to choirs, organs, vicars and life in general. The book is not cheap for the size, but worth it for its wisdom.