First image Chris Totney and second image Creative Commons
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Organist nurses shoulders after 'hymnathon'

Mon 06 Nov 2017
By Alex Williams

An organ player from Wiltshire has been nursing sore shoulder blades after playing more than 540 hymns in one day at the weekend.

Chris Totney took more than eight hours to play the entire New English Hymnal collection of hymns at St John's Church in Devizes on Saturday.

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Mr Totney, who is the Director for Music at St John's, told Premier: "It's quite complicated because you've got to not only co-ordinate both hands but also your feet.

"Normally, we're only used to doing that for about five or ten minutes at a time, so to do it for a period of hours was certainly quite a challenge."

Through the challenge, dubbed a hymnathon, Mr Totney gave a £700 to boost a fundraising campaign trying to send youngsters from St John's choir abroad next year.

The group, which features children aged between eight and 16, wants to raise up to £20,000 to fund a musical tour of Latvia in August 2018.

Explaining his choice of music for the hymnathon, Mr Totney explained: "It's the book that we use in St John's and we were well aware that it had 542 hymns in it, so we thought it might be an interesting experiment to find out how long it takes to play it from cover to cover.

"There are some really good hymns which have fallen out of favour... it would be good to see some of them revived."

Click here to listen to Premier's Alex Williams speaking with Chris Totney:

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