End of an era as Falkirk church organist retires after 53 years

The man who has graced Falkirk Trinity Church services with his outstanding organ playing for over half-a-century played his last chords for the congregation on Sunday.

By James Trimble
Tuesday, 21st December 2021, 3:41 pm

Bob Tait (79), from Polmont, may as well change his name to Mr Music after founding and being involved in a myriad of musical organisations in the Falkirk area in the 20th and 21st century – including the Falkirk Tryst Orchestra and Falkirk Festival Chorus to name but a few.

However, everything started – and ended – with him sitting at the organ and leading the choir in Falkirk Trinity Church, or Falkirk Old Parish Church as it was known.

Born in Falkirk in 1942, Mr Tait’s long relationship with Falkirk Old Parish Church began when he was baptised there.

Falkirk Trinity Church minister Reverend Robert Allan joins retiring organist Bob Tait and wife Christine

He started playing the organ in 1957 under the watchful eye of skilled piano teacher Alan Wilkins, who was organist and choirmaster at Kirk of the Holy Rude in Stirling at the time.

Mr Tait said: “I would learn from Alan Wilkins in Stirling and then practice in Falkirk Old Parish Church as much as I could. When the organist Willie Welsh retired and another organist subsequently left, I was asked to be the church organist and I’ve been there ever since.”

During the late 1960s the church was home to another music lover, Reverend James Paterson and he and Mr Tait began to expand the musical horizons at the town centre place of worship, as the church choir began to tackle classical works by Vivaldi and Mozart.

There were ups and downs over the years, including the infamous Easter of 1968 when Mr Tait had to cut short his holiday in Skye after his mum telephoned him to say

Falkirk Trinity Church organist is giving up his seat at the organ after over half a century

his beloved church organ had fallen out onto Newmarket Street.

That unfortunate incident, which happened during the demolition of the Old Town Hall, was followed by a happy event when Mr Tait married wife Christine, who shared his love of music, at the end of the year.

Church member Norah Summers paid eloquent and heartfelt tribute to Mr Tait during a service at Falkirk Trinity Church on Sunday.

She said: “I have sung in several choirs over many years and I’m sure all the conductors have done their homework, but Bob is in a class of his own. He has a vision.

“It is a rare gift indeed to be able to convey this vision to a motley crew of amateur singers, and even rarer to be able to instruct them how to realise it. Bob is always innovative – we have been accustomed to his lovely mini recitals at the beginning and end of each service.

“I never like to leave until the music has finished. What can we say, but thank you for the music.”

Mr Tait said: “I’ve been doing this for 53 years and I don’t have the energy I once had, but I will miss musically leading people and encouraging them to sing and enjoy music.

"It is like the end of an era I suppose. I’m moving on to another chapter in my life – retirement.”