I’ve written posts about the vanishing organist before — the fact that there are fewer and fewer organists around the world. Some of this may be due to changing worship styles where the organ is no longer in a place of prominence. Some of this may be due to the fact that it takes many years to cultivate an organist — you simply can’t learn to play in 10 easy lessons. And I’ve written before how difficult it is to play hymns correctly on the organ: “Hymn playing…not so simple.”
So today on the pipe organ listserv, someone mentioned the fact that The Lutheran magazine carried an ad for a product for Hymnal Plus:
“No organist? Problem solved!”:
“Hymnal Plus is the ultimate organ music solution.
“This portable music box stores and plays over 2730 traditional hymns and
popular praise songs–all at the touch of a button.
“Easily create play lists, control the tempo, change the key and even
choose your instrumentation.
“With over 7300 hymn book entries (upgradeable) indexed to 12 favorite hymn
books, the great sound of Hymnal Plus is fast making it the choice of
churches across the USA.”
I went on the HymnPlus website and further learned that one can change the tempo and key of any hymn tune by “using simple + and – buttons.” Even the length of the pause between verses can be altered, again using the + and – buttons.
Of course, organists on this discussion group were appalled at this development. One subscriber wrote: “I am Lutheran-born and raised, and also a church organist. While looking through the January issue of The Lutheran, my husband noticed an ad. “This is going to rattle your cage,” he said. An ad for Hymnal Plus—”the ultimate music worship solution.” I am appalled that of all denominations, Lutherans would endorse such a thing. What are you thinking? I am thoroughly disgusted that the editor thought it OK to include this ad in the magazine. I hope that Lutheran organists from coast to coast will rise up and cry foul.”
To which the editor responded: Advertising by non-ELCA related entities doesn’t constitute endorsement by The Lutheran or the ELCA.
One other list subscriber was so disgusted by the whole conversation that he proposed this: The response to this is simple. Let our tech-savvy members get to work on Father Ordinateur, the digitally-generated preacher. Dozens of sermons for every occasion; you choose your own voice type (deep male, ringing tenor, warm contralto and so on), with a selection of regional accents. Scriptural quotations from King James, various modern translations, or New Testament Greek. A bit of tweaking by the marketers, and it could save churches thousands in seminary training (not to mention later salaries).
You may want to go back and read my post about organists being replaced by technology by clicking here.