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Ritual, yes, and necessary for ritual, but so much more

Started by Max PB, September 26, 2012, 09:11:03 PM

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David Drinkell

Hear! Hear! or Amen to jwillans.

Tony's post said nothing to denigrate the organ, but pointed out that there can be, in certain situations, other options.  That some clergy take a more destructive view is unfortunate, but cannot be used as a criticism of Tony.


Hi Paul

Maybe you'd actually take the time to read my post before making unjustified comments!  I've been playing organ in church for over 50 years - and I certain don't denigrate the instrument.  In fact, in my last church, I initiated fundraising to have our pipe organ restored by Willis.  I've also advised manyother churches to retain & use their organs!

Yes, I do think that there's room for other musical styles in church, and the organ hasn't always been the first choice.  I also commented on using organ with other instruments - and what is wrong with that?

Every Blessing


Paul Duffy

I already knew about your background before I posted, Tony. I don't believe you can safeguard the pipe organ by encouraging the use of other instruments because at some point the cost of maintenance will be called into question. There is an oft-repeated myth that there is a shortage of organists. There isn't. There are plenty of people on the organ tutoring programme of Liverpool Cathedral for example. But they don't want to be church organists. Why is that?

You commented on the organ being used with other instruments and stated that you saw nothing wrong with that. Well, I see everything wrong with that. The organ does not need other instruments to play along with it. It is designed to supply everything itself. It is true that organs are used occasionally with orchestras, but in a church setting it is usually guitars and electric basses that form the accompaniment. When I have been asked to help out in a music group I have often avoided using the organ and used an electronic keyboard instead which went through the P.A to blend with the other instruments. I don't have a problem with music groups. After all, in many parishes the pipe organ has already gone, so music of some means still has to be provided. If there is no organist then the vacuum must be filled. However, some clergy find the pipe organ to be an utter embarrassment and an anacronism that is at odds with their zeal for reform. I suppose I was just venting my frustration with the idea that the organ by itself is no longer sufficient, that it would be best buried under amplified instruments to perform its role. Perhaps I went a little too far. Perhaps my little diatribe was akin to a Daily Wail rant. Maybe I should learn not to post when I have had ale. But it was genuine feeling of frustration that unfortunately wasn't watered down before publication.

Best wishes,


To my mind, we need the power of the organ to reflect the power of God and to reflect the words of the traditional hymns containing, as they do, equal amounts of theology and worship.   

And isn't it significant that Messaien composed "Apparition de l'Eglise éternelle" for the organ?
Nicolette Fraser, B. Mus., ARCO


Hi Paul

I think we can agree to differ on practicalities and style.

I've been using organ with other instruments from when I first started playing (a reed organ in a "tin tabernacle" Evangelical Church that had a music group back in the 1950's - in those days, mandolins, violin & piano plus the aforesaid reed organ)  That obviously has an effect on my thinking, as does my subsequent experiences.  One worry thing though is that a former senior church leader gave, as his reason for Baptist churches getting rid of organs, the fact that the organ does everything!  Worrying indeed - especially as the person in question, I later discovered, had been known to play organ in the past, so he doesn't even have the excuse of not understanding the instrument.

Every Blessing