I got to church on Sunday in plenty of time to practice the hymns. I looked them over: 138: Bless Our Fast, We Pray; 190: In Memory of the Crucified; and 254: True to the Faith.
"Ok," I thought. "Those shouldn't be too hard." I was mostly worried about 254, since it's a very bold upbeat song, and sounds really great with some fatty foot pedal action. But when I ran through the hymns (on a piano in a different room), the first one gave me the most trouble. It has a lot of accidentals, and the harmonization is already pretty unusual (as far as hymns go) without me adding my own spontaneous renditions (aka mistakes).
At 15 minutes before the hour, I went up to the chapel to play prelude music, but the organ was locked. I started playing the piano instead. When the chorister came in, I asked her who has the keys to the organ, and she walked over and opened it up. Um... I guess I just didn't pull hard enough? Yes, I felt stupid.
But at least it was open, right? I normally like to diddle with the stops for a while to pick what sounds good, but I didn't have time for that. I diddled with the presets instead, and settled on one that was decent.
Fast-forward to the end of the meeting. I'd messed up a lot on all the hymns, and was especially disappointed with my performance of the closing hymn, since I wore the wrong shoes and couldn't use the pedals at all without pushing more than one at a time (and my shoes were velcro and would have made a lot of noise had I taken them off). Oh well. I did the best I could.
What surprised me was how many compliments I received the rest of the day for my organ playing. And why? Because I'd taken hymn 254 at a clipping good tempo, instead of a slow dirge.
It just goes to show: rhythm is more important than accuracy.