Author Topic: Has the organ helped in your faith?  (Read 4279 times)

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Has the organ helped in your faith?
« on: October 28, 2014, 06:03:44 PM »
The first question in the introduction to this Post, “Has the organ has helped in your faith?” prompts me to make a comment.

The answer is certainly, Yes. When we are either the channel of or listeners to composers of great gifts and great faith we are fed by their exceptional vision of God and the love of Christ. Bach, it seems to me, expresses his personality without being auto-biographical; we don’t know if he was “a nice man”, but somehow his absolute conviction seems to come through the music. One is healed and strengthened, especially when one considers that Bach suffered in many ways that would dent many people’s faith.

Messiaen also appears to have this total conviction, though he himself said he wanted to “overwhelm” the listener (and the player)? Maybe one is slightly more aware (I don’t know why) of Messiaen as a personality, but certainly I have found my faith encouraged by his music.

Some composers appear more biographical (whether intentionally or not). I’m thinking of Vierne, whose character I would sum up in the Final of the 5th Symphony. Here, at the outset, you have something of the joy of praise (albeit with a Wagnerian flavour), followed by a sense of all the pain that blighted Vierne’s existence. The two moods alternate, both becoming progressively more extreme, with the joy and indeed transcendence overcoming all the suffering at the end. With the realization that Vierne, like so many other organ composers, was steeped in the faith, I feel tremendously encouraged by such music as this. It makes me hope that I may be brave, whatever the odds.

In Priere, I greatly admire Franck’s honesty, as this is a movement with a lot of pain and doubt involved (so it seems to me). It is a movement which affirms one in trust and hope, yet it is not about blind obedience. Knowing this movement by a composer who was so idolized by some of his pupils increases one’s confidence in the absolute sincereity of more affirmative works such as the Chorales.

Best wishes,


David Pinnegar

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Re: Has the organ helped in your faith?
« Reply #1 on: October 31, 2014, 08:27:44 AM »
Dear Roger

Your thoughts are most perceptive. It's my personal belief that the organ does have a window into the eternal. Part of this is also the pattern of sound that it creates in which everything is harmonically connected and this is akin to nature, the stuff of which everything is made. From there we start to the issue of Bach and mathematics. It becomes transcending.

It's for the reason that the organ and faith are interconnected that I've always thought the subject to receive more prominence than that which is normally given to it.

Best wishes

David P


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Re: Has the organ helped in your faith?
« Reply #2 on: February 09, 2015, 09:23:16 PM »
There are three things I'd like to say about my faith and the organ:
(1) Playing the organ definitely helps my faith.  When I accompany the hymns on Sundays, I always aim to reflect the text in my choices of registration, which in turn reinforces for me the message behind each verse.
(2) I am in no doubt at all that my ability to play the organ is something I've been gifted with in mid-life.   
(3) And I would really love to play the organ in the Berlioz Te Deum, and/or in Mahler's Resurrection Symphony with its faith-affirming last movement.

Thanks for the opportunity to say so!
« Last Edit: February 09, 2015, 09:53:38 PM by Nicolette »
Nicolette Fraser, B. Mus., ARCO


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Re: Has the organ helped in your faith?
« Reply #3 on: February 10, 2015, 10:14:43 AM »

Well said Nicollette.

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