So we’re done. That is it for me this year as far as work is concerned as I decided a few years ago that I would no longer find myself at the organ console for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day but instead experience what most people get to have. Having been a chorister since the age of eight and then an organ scholar and then an organist I think that I have paid my Christmas dues, broadcasts and all, and I would now much rather not have somebody at home waiting until four in the afternoon for me to turn up.

I did, however, receive notification of somebody who is working on Christmas Eve and Day and who is going to be spending part of their time performing The Oxen and Sweet Was The Song, which is delightful news, better still given that said person is (a) a former student of mine and (b) now based in the US. I am becoming ever more proud of former students going on to great things, and having my music being taken along for the journey is a wonderful thing, a Christmas present in itself.

The run of carol services last week was exactly as I expected it do be, which is to say that it was erratic and tricky. I only lost the one service to Covid, but there was another whose start time was shifted without my being told about it, and a few last-minute alterations to what had been agreed. Much as I still possess that desire to say yes to everything that is thrown at me I do think that I am at that stage in my career when I can afford to be more picky about what work I do, which does not mean that I am going to step back from it all, but I think that this year’s experience will cause me to trim a little bit of the excess.

Just occasionally it has crossed my mind this year that I definitely have fewer years ahead of me as a professional organist than behind, that a seasonal rhythm that I have taken for granted for nearly forty years has started to dim a little at the sides. It has not led to any revelatory moments, nor even has it changed my point of view substantially, but it has made me realise that I need to savour the experiences I have now, and not take them for granted, and not just because of Covid.

So it has certainly been a better Advent than last year when I think I played a grand total of three carol concerts, and it felt in many ways as though it was getting back to normal, up until the point that Omicron got in the way. If we can ride the wave then I hope that things will stay as they are, with venues open and opportunities around, but I must admit that I am a little nervous about the new year, so it will be a quiet and masked Christmas for me as things stand, and then I shall take things after that as they come. I hope that you all have a wonderful festive season – stay safe and be careful and I’ll definitely be in touch before 2022.