In response to my recent organ hymn playing exercise, Sylvia Wall asked me to comment on reading the words and punctuation, as well as knowing which verse you are playing.
I know it can be frustrating for organists to play the hymns and at the same time to read the words. While doing this, sometimes your tempo might become unstable and sometimes you can forget which verse the congregation is singing.
However, when you play hymns, I don't recommend reading the words too much because you have to focus on music (studying the text beforehand is a must, though).
One way to know which verse you are playing is to prepare the different registration in advance for each verse. If you remember the order of stop combinations for different verses, you will know which verse you are on.
Here's a video I made with demonstration of how not to get lost between the hymn verses.
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Drs. Vidas Pinkevicius and Ausra Motuzaite-Pinkeviciene
Organists of Vilnius University , creators of Secrets of Organ Playing.
Don't have an organ at home?
Download paper manuals and pedals, print them out, cut the white spaces, tape the sheets together and you'll be ready to practice anywhere where is a desk and floor. Make sure you have a higher chair.