I became an organist at Lahore Cathedral in 1968. I used to play the huge organ placed on top at one side of the altar, which is a history now. The organ is out of order and is not used these days.

Now I play the synthesizer which people call piano’s keyboard. My predecessor organist Sir Richard D. Talbot was an army man. It took me five years to play the music organ. I cannot breathe without my lifelong friend-synthesizer. It’s a very deep relationship. People ask me why I do not let touch anyone church’s piano. My answer remains the same that I have spent countless winters, summers and springs playing this piano. Our friendship grows stronger with each season passed.

Griffin James Hussain, a strange combination of names. ‘Hussain’ became part of my name because of my great-grand mother who prayed at Madho Lal Hussain shrine for a male child. Her prayer was fulfilled and my grandfather later in life made it a family name. He hailed from Baghbhanpura, Lahore wanted to become a singer while following in the footsteps of his father who used to recite music with legend Muhammad Rafi. The destiny of all music lovers at that time was the walled city of Lahore where maestros like Pandit Jiwan Lal Mattoo taught music. My father used to ride on bicycle from Khalsa College Amritsar to Muhammd Rafi’s village Kotla Sultan. The pair would then reach Mattoo’s house. That was my father.

I learnt piano from a Goan teacher at Garhi Shahu. I passed several exams at British High Commission when it was at Children Library Complex originally a Hindu property. I got scholarship to Britain to learn music. I got masters degree from Trinity College Music of London and then I got organist’s degree from Royal School of Church Music, UK. I am also a part of that team who set up musicology department at National College of Arts.

I always wanted to become a priest. Now I teach music teachers. Iran’s native used to grow field of roses and used mud of roses field as soap in daily life. I consider myself that mud because I learn from my teachers and pass it on to others. The hymns which we recite at church service are five centuries old and some of hymns composers are unknown. We play western classic. This is inspired by practice going back to 11th century when hymns recitation was started by monks in monasteries. At that time, they were indulged in wars as well they arranged festivals to rejoice themselves from whom they got their inspiration and from nature also. Staffs (wooden rods) were erected at festivals and when knights came on horses they maintained the balanced and paced their horses parallel between staffs. Same rule is applied in hymnology. We maintain the balance and when it echoes it soothes the ears. “Some people are ordained by men and some people are ordained by God,” this is what I get in reply from Bishop Inayat Masih when I told him I wanted to become a priest.

I always believe in leadership training and teach students to become leaders in their respective fields. I believe in merit and I also teach music on merit, giving meritocracy a priority in my whole life. I worked with famous singer Noshad Ali in Mumbai, who was musician for film Mughal-e-Azam. He used to say three elements are essential for becoming a great singer – ‘passion, continuous fervor and triviality’. I just repeat these lines of Noshad Ali for young generation who want to prove themselves in musicology. – As told to Faizan Ali Warraich