Instruments in church
Posted 08 February 2007 - 04:53 PM
Posted 08 February 2007 - 02:59 PM
Posted 08 February 2007 - 02:51 PM
And you're right - There's nothing like "Amazing Grace" played on bagpipes. That's the one request I have for my funeral.
Posted 08 February 2007 - 02:10 PM
For me it is not the instrument, but rather what and how the instrument is being played.
Ditto that ditto!
No one has mentioned bagpipes!
Amazing Grace on the bagpipes is awesome! especially when it is performed in full Scottish regalia!
Posted 08 February 2007 - 12:46 PM
Add me to the "Ditto" group. I played "Amazing Grace" on the tuba once. That was received with mixed reactions.
LOL. Never thought there was anything wrong with a tuba...
Or was it an Amazing Grace swing version? :frog
Posted 08 February 2007 - 12:34 PM
Posted 28 May 2007 - 12:41 PM
Posted 28 May 2007 - 12:00 PM
No organ. Organs are the instrument of the Roman Catholic Church.
1 ¬∂ Praise ye the LORD. Praise God in his sanctuary: praise him in the firmament of his power.
2 Praise him for his mighty acts: praise him according to his excellent greatness.
3 Praise him with the sound of the trumpet: praise him with the psaltery and harp.
4 Praise him with the timbrel and dance: praise him with stringed instruments and organs.
5 Praise him upon the loud cymbals: praise him upon the high sounding cymbals.
6 Let every thing that hath breath praise the LORD. Praise ye the LORD.
Posted 28 May 2007 - 09:07 AM
Besides the piano or organ.... what are appropriate instruments to have in church? I know the drums are out, but what about stringed instruments, brass etc.... the reason that I am asking is that the church that we are attending has an elderly man that plays the guitar with some of the songs and special music, and I just love it. Just wondered what your thoughts were?
No organ. Organs are the instrument of the Roman Catholic Church.
From the Watchman And Observer, Richmond VA
February 22, 1849, Volume IV, No. 28.
Mr. Editor.‚??I have been pleased to see in your paper, some discussion on the use of organs in church-music. This subject cannot be regarded as one, affecting the fundamentals of religious truth; but it has its importance, especially as a symptom of the spiritual state and opinions of our churches. And it is well that the views of Presbyterians should be digested and settled on some rational principles, before the silent tide of Fashion has swept them all into an imitation of a thing alien to their institutions.
It has always been common among the advocates of this Popish mode of worship, to meet the objections of simple minded Protestants to the organ, with the retort that their scruples were the relics of fanatical prejudice, and rustic ignorance. Such objections have been treated almost with levity and ridicule, as if they were contrary to taste, refinement and light, although the reading world knows, that they decided the minds of the wisest and most learned Reformers; the fathers of Protestantism. The sensible and just remarks of "Inquirer," in a late number of your paper, under the modest form of doubts, have presented objections to the organ, too solid, too rational, and pious to be thus lightly treated. They cannot fail of having some effect on every evangelical mind. It is not my purpose to attempt to do again, what Inquirer has done so well, by stating the scriptural and historical objections to the use of this instruments, in Protestant worship. But my object is to vindicate the great body of the Protestant church, and the Fathers of Protestantism, from the charge of ill taste, rudeness and blind prejudice, in their opposition. It is not strange that men, such as the present advocates of the organ in Presbyterian churches in America, should bring such a charge against such men; many of them educated amidst the richest specimens of the fine arts in the old world, their youth imbued with the spirit of a gorgeous and poetic age? Is it not rather queer, that the ephemeral aristocracy of our trading towns, whose high life took its rise between the stilts of the plough, or behind the tradesman's counter, only a generation or two back, who perhaps, never saw or heard an instrument that deserved to be called an organ, and whose taste would not suffice to distinguish a painting of the greatest masters, from the efforts of our peripatetic portrait-takers in these backwoods, or to discern between the eccentric voluntaries of one of our boarding-school misses, elevated into a temporary organist, and a symphony of Handel, should be charging rusticity on such men as the Reformers and founders of Protestant churches. Men educated amidst the splendors of the fine arts, in the Augustan age of Popery, and accomplished with all the polite learning of their age? My purpose is to retort the charge of bad taste on the advocates of organs, and to show that their introduction into Protestant worship is incongruous with its spirit, and contrary to the true principles of musical science, and musical taste.
The music of an organ may be appropriate to Popish worship, and may be in good taste in a Popish cathedral; and yet may be in wretchedly ill taste, when applied to Protestant worship. All will admit, that to imitate blindly, the fashions of the higher classes, without regard to those considerations of fitness, which render them appropriate and tasteful in those whom we follow, is the plainest mark of false taste and vulgarity. For example; we may be informed that Queen Victoria wears, with her evening dress, the thinnest slippers of white Satin. The young miss who should therefore conclude, that her feet would be appropriately arrayed in similar shoes, for a ride on horseback, through our country mud, to one of our country churches, would display a ludicrous instance of false taste. We may be told that Prince Albert sports no boots but those radiant with patent varnish, in St. James' Park. To adopt a similar article for hunting or walking boots, to traverse the mud of Virginia, would be a piece of vulgar imitation, unworthy of any one, above the sable beaux, who, in the streets of Richmond, so successfully ape, and even out-do, the distinguishing characteristics of the "Distingues."
Now these are just illustrations of the false taste shown by the Protestant church, when she apes Popery, in the use of the organ. The instrument is appropriate to the spirit of papal worship; but there is an essential difference between that worship and ours, which makes our blind use of their favorite instrument, a most unfortunate instance of vulgar imitation. Popish worship is addressed to the senses, and the imagination through the senses. According to the Papists' own theory of his worship, the mass is a grand Action. It is all in an unknown tongue; but this matters not: he asserts that even though there were not an articulate word pronounced in any language, the solemn drama would convey its instructions to the heart, through the genuflections, the pantomime, the adoration of the priests, and the varying harmonies of the music. Their theory of church music is just the same. The hymns are in an unknown language: if the worshipper heard every syllable articulated, he would not understand the ideas that are sung, nor does it matter that he should. The sentiment of devotion is conveyed sufficiently, by the character of the music.
But the theory of Protestant religious music is, or ought to be, essentially different. We appeal to the understanding and to those intelligent emotions, which are produced by the understanding on the heart. We sing articulate, intelligent words, in a familiar language, conveying to every hearer, instructive ideas and elevating sentiments. The articulation of words sung, is the very essence and soul of our musical worship. We recognize the music only as an accessory, to aid in impressing the ideas it accompanies; for we do not believe there is any more religion in the sensations of melody and harmony, separately considered, than in the posture of the declaimer. We conceive that it is only by accompanying intelligent religious ideas, that they can produce any religious effect. The scripture represents religious music as the vehicle of religious instruction, and imply the necessity of distinct articulation. "I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also, else when thou shall bless with the spirit, how shall he that occupieth the room of the unlearned, say Amen at they giving of thanks‚??seeing he understandeth not what thou sayest:" lst Corinthians 14; 15 and 16. "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs"‚??Col. 3:16. These passages fully sustain the assertion that religious music, to be scriptural, must contain intelligible articulate words, conveying some pious instruction or emotion.
Now then, we assert that this essential difference between the theory and spirit of Popish church music and Protestant, makes the organ an unfit and ill-judged accompaniment for our vocal religious songs: although it is appropriate and well chosen for the purpose of Papists. ‚??Those who advocate the use of the organ must submit to the charge of blind, unscientific imitation; or they must adopt the kind of music which Rome uses, appealing only to the ear, inarticulate, and uninstructive, and utterly foreign to the intention of the scriptures. The latter thing is, indeed, partly done, in practice, in all Protestant churches, where this instrument is used.
To evince the justice of the charge of false taste, just made, it remains to point out, in what respects, the organ is inconsistent with the spirit and character of scriptural church music. And first; none who are familiar with the use of the organ, can be so hardy as to deny, that it is unfavorable to distinct articulation, which is the very essential of religious music. It is the most overpowering of all accompaniments to vocal music, and most effectually obliterates the distinctions of articulate sound. For himself the writer would affirm that he never, in a single instance, heard an organ used, when he could catch a single connected sentiment of what was sung, except so far as reading of the hymn before the singing, assisted his memory. And it may be fearlessly asserted, that the use of an organ utterly disappoints that, which is the grand purpose of religious music, the comprehension of the sentences sung, with the majority of hearers. Is not this a fatal objection to its use, with any man who values sense more than sound, the kernel more than the shell?
Second: The organ is incapable of accentuation. The alternate notes played upon it cannot receive any variety of ictus or force, as should be the case in all music. The rhythm of English poetry depends entirely on the occurrence of accented and unaccented syllables, in a certain order. In reading it, the emphasis, or ictus of the voice must fall on the alternate syllables, intended to receive it. To neglect this rule, and to pronounce the syllables indiscriminately with equal force, would convert the most spirited lines of Scott or Burns, into an intolerable drawl. Now, this rhythm is equally essential in poetry, when sung. The alternate notes, corresponding with the accented syllables of the metre, must receive a heavier or stronger tone. To neglect this, in singing, is as insufferable to a cultivated musical ear, as the neglect of the accentuation in reading poetry, would be to the elocutionists. These are assertions which no man can dare to dispute, without condemning himself, as the crudest of sciolists in musical knowledge. And it is equally undeniable, that the organ is utterly incapable of giving any expression to this ictus or accent; for the plain reason, that the force of the tone depends on the operations of the bellows-blower, or the character of the stop used, and not on the force of the performer's touch upon the key. Hence the music of an organ, although it may have a certain kind of solemnity, can never be spirited. It is only rescued from the character of drawling, by the power and fullness of its tones. To use it as an accompaniment to vocal music, is death to the spirit and expression of the poetry which is sung.
Third: The organ, like all other instruments with fixed stops to mark off the tones of the scale, gives those tones inaccurately; and when used along with that perfect instrument of God's own make, the human voice, must fail in producing a perfect accord, and perfect harmonies. This will be confirmed by any scientific organist.
The long drawn peals of harmony which proceed from this instrument echoing through lofty arches, and the fullness and volume of its sound, may render it suitable to the purpose of Popish ecclesiastical theatricals. But we assert, for the reasons above, that it is utterly unsuited, ill judged, and in ill taste, as an accompaniment for vocal music, intended to be articulate, and expressive of intelligible ideas. We assert it purely on principles of musical taste, apart from historical or theological objections. We retort the charge of rusticity on the advocates of organs in Protestant worship, and assert that this application of this accompaniment, regardless of the difference of circumstances, and the natural incongruities of the things, is the true breach of enlightened taste, and the true exhibition of prejudice.
There is a fact in the musical world, to which we can appeal for practical confirmation of the principles of taste laid down. The modern Opera is more of an Action and a Pantomime, than the religious music of Protestants was intended to be; though less so than the Mass. ‚??The plot of the play is exhibited, partly by scenery and pantomimes, and partly by words set to music and sung articulately. Its nature is, therefore, not so totally foreign to that of the organ, as the nature of Protestant sacred music which depends wholly on articulation to convey its sentiments. And yet, although I would not claim as much familiarity with the theatricals as some of the admirers of organs in churches, I feel authorized to assert, that such a thing as an organ in the orchestra of an Opera, is never heard of; and that its introduction would be regarded by the whole musical world, as a ludicrous anomaly. All men of taste would feel, that the character of the instrument is unsuitable to the expression, emphasis, and flexibility of articulate, vocal music. The same principles of taste should expel it from our churches.
The manner in which this instrument is almost universally used in our Protestant churches, makes it doubly grievous to devotional feeling, and offensive to good taste. The organs obtained are frequently of inferior construction; and are out of tune, and ill-played. The volume of sound is often utterly disproportioned to the number of voices. Sometimes we see a little, feeble, starveling choir, to which the "accompaniment" has proved almost a fatal incubus, with a dozen voices, and an organ pouring forth tones strong enough to guide a thousand singers. In this connection, it may be remarked, that the use of organs in the Protestant churches of Holland, and in other places in Europe, where the congregational singing is noted as very fine, is no precedent whatever for the manner in which they are used in this country. There, the spirit of the people is generally imbued with a taste for music. All sing; and where a thousand voices are united in a song of praise, the peculiar faults of the instrument are hidden in the vast volume of sound; and its leading chords subserve some slightly useful purpose, in keeping the air up to the proper pitch. But in a church where the vocal music is confined to thirty or forty voices, the organ is dominant, and all its vices becomes glaring.
The testimony of all concurs in proving, that the use of organs in this country is unfavorable to congregational singing. Unless their introduction can be guarded from this ill effect, more effectually than it has hitherto, let them be kept out forever. Another effect equally general, is to render the choir weak and remiss. Not only do we never see spirited congregational singing in this part of the country in churches where there are organs, we do not often find, in such churches, good choir singing. And surely, it is no slight objection, that an inexperienced private individual must be employed as organist, or some teacher of music, or theatrical musician must be hired. And thus one of the most solemn parts of the worship of a spiritual God, is committed chiefly to the guidance of a professional hireling, commonly a wicked man!
One of the most outrageous sins against good taste and devotional feeling committed by these windy machines, consists of the preludes and symphonies, with which they usually introduce and intersperse the praise of God. These seem to be thrown in, by some arithmetical or mechanical rule, between every two verses, in utter disregard of taste and sense. The nature of scriptural singing should teach us, that there should be nothing of the sort. The only use of the musical sounds, is to accompany and enforce the words expressing pious sentiments. What religious use or sense is there then, in that part of the music which is accompanied by no words? None. It has no business in the church. Just as reasonably might the preacher preface each impressive paragraph with a minute or two of pantomimic gesture. And then, the symphonies are thrown in blindly, after every verse, whether the sentiment of the poetry justifies any pause or not. It may be, that the burning thoughts of the hymn would hurry the devout soul along, without pause, from verse to verse. It may be that the end of a verse leaves a sentence unfinished, the nominative in the former verse waiting for its verb in the latter. Good taste and good sense would dictate, that an unbroken tide of song should bear the wrapt soul along to the climax of the sentiment, before it is required to pause. But no: the glowing thought must hang in it mid flight, or the widowed subject must stand bereaved of its predicate, until the "Performer" has had time to distinguish himself to his hearts content in a "voluntary." But the most nauseating thing about the whole exhibition, is to see performers presuming to detain a whole congregation, with their "extemporized voluntaries," when their inventive talent does not extend far enough to justify them in undertaking an original nursery song, and their operative skill does not suffice to perform the air of a common hymn, with sufficient fluency and spirit. ‚??The manner in which these wondrous performances are thrown off, would seem to indicate, sometimes, that they are intended to realize the description of the great English poet of
Notes with many a winding bout
Of linked sweetness, long drawn out,
With wanton heed and giddy cunning,
The melting voice through mazes running,
Untwisting all the chains that tie
The hidden soul of harmony.
But their afflicted hearers doubtless found about as much resemblance between their effusions and the conceptions of a true master, as you, Mr. Editor, would discover between the eccentric bombast of an Arkansas stump orator, and the speeches of Demosthenes. Long may it be, ere I am again subjected to such inflictions. Give me rather, for ever more, the hearty singing of the whole congregation, uniting their voices in some of those solemn strains, sung by sainted parents over our cradles, and linked with all the sweet and solemn recollections of the dreamy past! When all together rise up, "making melody in their hearts unto God," and mingling their voices in one tide of expressive, living, gushing melody, how does the delicious horror send the blood thrilling through the heart? How does the billowy harmony bear the enraptured soul towards heaven? Such were the strains with which the Presbyterian church in our land honored God in earlier days. Such was the songs that swept on the wailing winds, over the moors of Scotland, when the purest of God's people there, braved death to worship him. Such were the strains with which the Republicans of England shook the hearts of their foes, when they drew nigh to the battle, with "the high praises of God in their mouths, and a two edged sword in their hands," to execute vengeance upon the heath and judgments upon the people." Such we believe were the songs of praise sent up to God from that upper chamber, where the primitive church met to worship. ‚??And wherever they shall be heard, they will elevate the devout, convince the sinful, and make the careless solemn, more effectually than any of the borrowed artifices of a worldly church.
There is one fact connected with the introduction of organs into those of our churches which have adopted them, which is exceedingly distressful. It is the reason which we always hear assigned, among other reasons, for their introduction, and which we believe has been in every case the most operative one. It is always urged: "we must have an organ to keep pace with other churches in attracting a congregation, and in retaining the young and thoughtless." Has it come then to this, that the chaste spouse of Christ is reduced to borrow the meretricious adornment of the "scarlet whore," in order to catch the unholy admiration of the ungodly? Not thus did the Apostles devise to bring sinners to the church. They were taught to go after them, into the highways and hedges, with the wooings of mercy and love; to allure them by the beauty of holiness; to urge them by the terrors of the law. If we are authorized to add to God's worship, forms purely of human device, in order to make it more palatable to sinners, to what corruptions shall we not give entrance? The Popish church of South America attracts multitudes of worshippers, by gross theatrical representations. According to this mode of operations, which has introduced organs into our churches, a Presbyterian Church in South American might find it necessary to imitate idolatrous Papists, and convert God's house into a play-house. An excuse which will justify such an enormity as this under different circumstances, is surely no valid excuse for any thing. We believe that all such artifices, of human device, to catch popularity, are inconsistent with the genius of the Presbyterian Church, derogatory of her honor, and blasting to her interests. It was her glory and her strength, that she aimed to commend herself by her firm devotion to truth, by the purity of her discipline, the pre-eminence of her ministry, and the justice of her polity. If she will cleave to these traits and rest upon them in humble faith in her divine Head, she will prosper. But when once she descends from the high vantage ground of intellectual, theological, and moral superiority, to chaffer [barter] for popularity by human devices, and doubtful arts, her prestige will be gone. Other churches are better adapted to win in that race, and will surely outrun her.
Posted 28 May 2007 - 08:58 AM
Also the Levites which were the singers, all of them of Asaph, of Heman, of Jeduthun, with their sons and their brethren, being arrayed in white linen, having cymbals and psalteries and harps, stood at the east end of the altar, and with them an hundred and twenty priests sounding with trumpets:)
It came even to pass, as the trumpeters and singers were as one, to make one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the LORD; and when they lifted up their voice with the trumpets and cymbals and instruments of music, and praised the LORD, saying, For he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever: that then the house was filled with a cloud, even the house of the LORD;II Chronicles 5:12,13
Posted 07 February 2007 - 06:26 PM
Posted 07 February 2007 - 06:39 PM
Posted 07 February 2007 - 06:45 PM
For me it is not the instrument, but rather what and how the instrument is being played.
Posted 07 February 2007 - 07:53 PM
My youth pastor plays a guitar, another man in our church plays a mandolin, and I play the hammered dulcimer as a trio once in a while. In a week and a half, I will be playing a bowed psaltry for the offertory.
Posted 07 February 2007 - 08:43 PM
One church we went to used the piano and organ for congregational singing but specials were played also on the flute, guitar, trombone, trumpet, hammered dulcimer, autoharp and even "glasses". :mrgreen:
Posted 07 February 2007 - 08:50 PM
Posted 07 February 2007 - 08:51 PM
Posted 07 February 2007 - 10:00 PM
For me it is not the instrument, but rather what and how the instrument is being played.
Posted 24 May 2007 - 05:15 PM