There’s been a blog post about the organ that has been recently shared among those in the pipe organ community, and is well worth the lengthy read. I’m confident it would be interesting to readers of this blog so you can read the article in its entirety by clicking here.
The author debunks the popular notion that unchurched people are attracted to “non-churchy” elements, so they advocate discarding things like pulpits, baptismal fonts, pews, stained glass windows, choirs and organs.
On the contrary, the author lays out the following premises:
1. The organ is the best man-made instrument for supporting congregational singing. This really hit home when, a few years ago, the LCH organ underwent restoration and we had to use the piano. I can honestly say that the singing was not as hearty as usual.
2. The organ is made up of choirs. The various families of sound on the organ give almost limitless possibilities of tone color to lead the congregational singing every week. I change the registration of organ stops on every hymn verse to not only give variety but to illuminate the mood of the text.
3. The organ is a powerful instrument. When I “pull out the stops” there’s no question who’s in charge! Long ago, I recognized the complete sense of power that the organist has in leading the service.
4. The organ is a very expensive instrument. Well, yes and no. The price of a pipe organ is like that of buying a house. Our organ cost $100,000 in 1975, but it still sounds as new today, 37 years later. We live in a throwaway society yet the organ lasts and lasts. (The Beckerath organ will far outlive all of us.) According to the author, a pipe organ says, “We are committed to excellence in church music, and we want to encourage that excellence for many, many generations to come.”
5. The organ can help create a “church culture.” Do you think that the presence of the Beckerath organ re-invigorated the Lutheran Church of Honolulu? Surely it formed the foundation for its fine music program, which led to all those Bach cantatas, and the attraction of so many fine symphony musicians to its services.