May. 27, 2016

The Pipe Organ In Worship, Part IV

(con't from Part III)
Young people are typically fascinated by pipe organs if they're introduced to them correctly; some of them will tell you they love the organ and they'd like to play it in church if someone only bothered to show them how.
If they have piano or keyboard skills, they can learn the organ basics in about 2-3 hours; it takes about an additional hour to train their feet to find their way about the organ's pedals.
Most of the newer consoles have an Automatic Pedal, or Pedal to Great Bass coupler, piston to allow the "pinky" finger of the left hand to play pedal notes by the lowest note played on the Great manual at first until the pupil graduates to using both feet on the pedals.
With due diligence it's possible to find solutions like this to the need to develop someone into an organist and have them playing right away.
Every challenge has a solution when addressed energetically.
Interested young people are out there who need to be creatively found and encouraged to develop into church organists who can use the instrument skillfully, fittingly, boldly, and humbly. Sadly, in some places, the shortage of organists has something to do, at least partially, with church administrators and/or snobbish church organists who look down on kids like this who can't reach or play the pedals yet, can't sight read a hymn with 6 stanzas of words from the hymn book yet, can't span an octave with their hands just yet, or may not be interested in J.S. Bach just yet, etc.
Playing the organ requires persistence and discipline over a long time and a good teacher, or series of teachers; but the payback is high, with access to centuries of music and connection with a universal language and instruments in spaces where worship has been enacted by generations of believers long before us.
Similarly, we have handbells and musicians of grade school age up through adults chomping at the bit to play them; we teach them to ring in unity as a picture of the church, individual members rightly fitted together to serve God in harmony with each other in a sinful and dying world.
When God sends us guitarists and drummers we encourage them as well to lend their skills in leading us in worship, for the glory of God, which will always lead to good for the church, and the gain of lost souls.
We're blessed with a long standing tradition of Christian choral music, sung by choirs of all ages, traditional ensembles and contemporary ones expand that palette, as we've had folks step up and offer their talents in that area.
We strive, seeking His power and direction, to allow Him to make our music ministry a manifestation of what He has given us, not what any of us in our place have decided it should look like, or sound like.
By the same token, it isn't about preference; it isn't about what touches the heart; it's about which instruments best support congregational singing, and the pipe organ does this job better than any other.
Those who say they don't like the organ and can't bear its "stodgy sound" invariably have never heard either a really good sounding pipe organ or organist, or maybe they had a bad experience with the not so good.
Whatever the case, there has not ever been, nor ever will be, an instrument that can come close to what a "good" organ can do to lead in corporate worship.
J.S. Bach faithfully served churches in a hundred mile radius his entire life, writing beautiful, well crafted music for soloists, choirs, organ, and whatever other instruments were available to him.
On every piece he composed, he inscribed these gripping words:
Soli Deo Gloria ...
To God alone be glory.
Whatever God gives you, use it diligently, skillfully, and humbly.
(con't in Part V)