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IS THE DEATH OF THE  ORGAN PRELUDE UPON US? - March 2020 The American Organist

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  • IS THE DEATH OF THE  ORGAN PRELUDE UPON US? - March 2020 The American Organist

    From: https://www.agohq.org/current-issue/ March 2020 The American Organist
    IS THE DEATH OF THE ORGAN PRELUDE UPON US?

    One of my New York City colleagues, an active church musician for over 20 years, told me today that a large and fashionable synagogue in Manhattan has recently discontinued organ preludes as an element in worship, because the din of the gathering congregation prior to the start of worship had become so loud that it rendered all but the loudest of organ preludes inaudible. Reports such as this one, and the bulk of my own experiences as a church organist in the past three years, lead me to identify the removal of the organ prelude from the order of worship in American churches as an ominous and developing trend. To approach an understanding of how this trend appears to be developing, I offer details of my own recent experiences in three churches. In each of these, awareness of the holy nature of our religious sanctuaries, and the practice of common-sense good manners and respect when in public places, appear to be on a broad decline.


    In each of the past three years, I have served Protestant congregations in Indiana and Michigan for brief periods, with service in each ranging from four to nine months. In each of these three congregations, I have witnessed a lack of awareness and respect for the sanctity of the special physical spaces we call sanctuaries. This lack of awareness is particularly so in the time traditionally given to an organ prelude, those moments that immediately precede the first spoken words in a worship service or Mass. I find my recent experiences playing organ preludes to be disturbing, not only owing to professional frustration, but also owing to the greater social and religious implications, of which congregational unruliness appears to be a symptom.


    Let us examine the first of three congregations (2017), a Missouri Synod Lutheran church. During my playing of a contemplative prelude of J.S. Bach, “O Sacred Head, Now Wounded,” in a Maundy Thursday service, I was startled by an extended, loud outburst of laughter by a woman—a known parishioner of middle age who appeared to be of sound mind—who was reacting to a series of jokes being told to her while seated in the pew by a similarly aged male companion. Being on the organ bench, just about ten feet away from the pew where the giggling parishioners carried on, this outburst distracted me so much that I had to pause for a moment before resuming my organ prelude. Perhaps these folks were thinking that casual worship applied to casual dress and in all other ways, too. Was there ever the thought that we behave differently in church, compared with how we behave when entertaining friends and family at home? Was there no silent prayer, or other silent contemplation over Christ’s Passion at such a Holy Week service? How entirely insensitive these parishioners appeared! The pastor at this church was not in the habit of encouraging meditative or prayerful silence prior to worship, and in fact, on any given Sunday morning, the pastor of this parish could be seen “working the pews,” so to speak, during prelude time, sipping coffee in the sanctuary from a large mug while standing and chatting with parishioners seated in the pews. It seems that, in this parish, the Christian outreach of fellowship, which, in the most traditional of situations, would be reserved for the fellowship hall post-service, had, in a sense, invaded and conquered the quiet time in the sanctuary.


    Moving on to the second congregation of my experience, we have an ELCA Lutheran church, in 2018, during the middle of the long Pentecost season. Here again, casual worship had been encouraged by the pastor over several years. Although the attendance in this tiny parish averaged only 15 to 20 worshippers on Sunday, during the organ prelude, one could frequently hear loud talking, peppered with an occasional outburst of a guffaw, from one of the regular pensioner-age parishioners. Perhaps this happy soul was in need of a hearing aid. Frequently at prelude time, I heard sides of private conversations shouted from parishioners in the narthex. I could not help but learn all about Aunt Millie’s latest high bowling score as I tried to focus on playing the organ prelude. On occasion, loud talking by worshippers would continue as the opening sentences of the service ensued, at which point the pastor would raise his voice to intervene, addressing and silencing the chatterers. Again, the behavior of the assembled congregants was such that it interfered with the presentation and hearing of the organ prelude. As with the previous church, the pastor here was unwilling to defend the sanctuary strictly as a sacred, quiet place. Fellowship in the sanctuary had predominance. Was the pastor avoiding confrontation over behavior, perhaps for fear he would alienate or drive away those few parishioners who he felt he had worked so hard to cultivate? It appears that the concept of keeping speech to a whisper in the sanctuary was not instilled as a virtue in this parish. The net result is that worship leaders, both clergy and organist, lose a level of respect. In an extreme and ridiculous analogy, the clergy are reduced to the role of a talk show emcee, while the organist is given the role of a disc jockey.


    Let’s move on once more to the third and most recent congregation, in 2019. In this Presbyterian congregation of 250 there are three ministers: one traditional senior pastor, and two younger pastors, both of whom were recent graduates of a renowned East Coast seminary. Here, there is but one Sunday worship service, with average Sunday service attendance of 150. The majority of the congregation—as much as 80 percent—identify with the concept of casual worship, and would best describe the worship service as a “celebration.” A small minority of the congregation—about 20 percent in this case—take a more formal, traditional view of worship. Traditional worshippers are patient and accepting of the modern trends in casual worship. Worshippers from these diverse points of view and backgrounds join together in a single, weekly Sunday service. In my short time at this church, I noted that pre-service chatter was more prevalent on Sundays where the casual worshippers were in the majority, and when the younger clergy, who have cultivated their own supporters in the congregation, are the assigned preachers. At worship services where traditional worshippers comprise the majority, there is a much greater sense of calm and quiet in the sanctuary at organ prelude time.


    At the 5 P.M. Christmas Eve service, the senior pastor estimated a congregation of about 275, comprised of 80 percent casual worshippers, with about 60 percent of those casual worshippers being unchurched guests, whose attendance was driven by open invitations posted on Facebook. As 5:00 approached, the congregation swelled like a “flash mob” at the shopping mall. Can you guess the demeanor of this congregation? It was celebratory indeed, like a rowdy party on Super Bowl Sunday at a local sports bar. For this organist, it was like a surreal dream. At prelude time, the din from the gathered throng was so loud that I could not hear the notes of the organ prelude I was playing. After not hearing what I was playing for a minute, I paused at a natural break in the score, and then I engaged the Full Organ piston and rendered a ten-voice chord in the key of the prelude. To my surprise, this procedure drew no one’s attention. The din and chatter continued unabated. When the prelude was over, I witnessed our mature, tall male senior pastor and a young associate female pastor at the front of the nave, both appearing a bit cowed, trying their best to gain the attention of this party-ready congregation. At this service on this Christmas Eve, our dear infant baby Jesus would most certainly have been awakened. The church choir director, who has encouraged and supported casual worship with a steady selection of light, contemporary Christian anthems for about 20 years, apologized profusely to me after the service, as if she had somehow borne responsibility for the behavior that obfuscated the organ prelude. She related that borderline unruly congregations of the sort we just experienced had comprised “an issue” in our church for quite some time. It was then that I understood how our previous organist may have been driven to resign her post.


    So, this letter to the editor wishes to pose the question as to how many of our AGO organists have had similar experiences with unruly congregations at organ prelude time. My letter also raises the question of whether the casual and celebratory style of worship gatherings, as are so embraced by today’s clergy, are in fact compatible with, or rather, are combative against, the organ prelude. When one considers that organ preludes are often played below the mezzoforte dynamic level, and when an organist encounters so much chatter and din in the sanctuary at prelude time so as to render only the loudest of preludes audible, this condition automatically imposes an artistic and spiritual limitation on the organ selections that an organist might consider for worship.


    I should not paint a completely hopeless picture. In many Roman Catholic parishes, I continue to witness priests and nuns moving with quick resolve to enforce the level of decorum they wish to maintain in the sanctuary. Also, during my time at the first church cited above, I served as organist for one memorial service where all but a few of the congregation were visitors from another parish. At that standing-room-only gathering, the quiet respect from visitors was such that one could have heard a pin drop throughout the 20-minute organ prelude. That remarkable gift of quiet and attentiveness afforded me the opportunity to provide the highest level of comfort that the organ is so known for. But the trends I have mentioned indicate that such experiences are becoming dearer and dearer exceptions. Is it not our clergy who are best positioned to guide and influence their parishioners in the best, most respectful manners and customs? If clergy fail to direct congregations in constructive ways, how can the blessing we know as the organ prelude escape becoming an everstronger candidate for extinction?
    FREDERICK HOHMAN South Bend, Ind.



  • #2
    Interesting article, and so true. Thank you for sharing it.

    Michael
    Way too many organs to list, but I do have 5 Allens:
    • MOS-2 Model 505-B / ADC-4300-DK / ADC-5400 / ADC-6000 (Symphony) / ADC-8000DKC
    • Lowrey Heritage (DSO-1)
    • 9 Pump Organs, 1 Pipe Organ & 6 Pianos

    Comment


    • #3
      The Methodist church at which a friend of mine plays is now so rowdy that she regularly just stops playing the prelude.The people there now bring coffee and cookies into the service, they also leave the empty cups and crumbs.

      Comment


      • myorgan
        myorgan commented
        Editing a comment
        Aeolian,

        I feel her pain. There is another pianist now at our church and she plays the prelude. Needless to say, sometimes she plays, sometimes she doesn't, and sometimes she is on-again, off-again. Yesterday when I returned (after 1 month away), they interrupted her playing by applause. One never knows what's going to happen.

        Michael

    • #4
      I'm a different class of organist than many of you guys, a perfectly serviceable hymn player and improviser, able to handle the normal service music in my quasi-liturgical Disciples church, but with no real recital music in my repertoire. With practice I could no doubt learn at least some simpler classical pieces, but my attempts at that have been sparse. Thus my preludes (and postludes) are basically limited to improvs and flourishes on hymns and Gospel songs.

      Perhaps the fact that I'm not playing pieces on which I've spent countless hours of practice enters into my attitude, and I understand that you real players may feel differently about this. But I truly am not bothered by the casual atmosphere in our church before and after the service. Until our worship leader takes to the lectern to greet the crowd, there is a general buzz of activity in the pews, folks visiting and enjoying one another. I guess if the kids were running up and down the aisles it would be cause for concern, but the noise and general fellowship going on seems rather nice to me, especially since we went through a period of time when we had no children at all in the service. It's a joy to me to hear all that noise out there!

      So my prelude typically consists of a few minutes of fairly quiet improvising on the hymns we are about to sing. If I'm lucky I may even come up with a creative way to interleave or combine some tunes, and this is personally quite amazing and satisfying, though I doubt that anyone else notices. I generally wind up the prelude with the final 30 seconds being a gradual crescendo to a near tutti on the grandest phrase of the grandest hymn of the day. This not only serves to signal the crowd that the service proper is about to begin, but it offers them a moment of high praise and joy, if they are wanting one.

      Thus, my prelude may or may not be of any interest to other people, but it truly helps ME prepare for the service, and I hope that it may inspire someone else out there, even if they don't know it at the time. I don't anticipate that I'd ever quit doing this, regardless of how casual the atmosphere became, because what I do fits in with that casual atmosphere and it doesn't hurt my feelings either way, if people are paying attention or not.
      John
      ----------
      *** Please post your questions about technical service or repair matters ON THE FORUM. Do not send your questions to me or another member by private message. Information shared is for the benefit of the entire organ community, but other folks will not be helped by information we exchange in private messages!

      https://www.facebook.com/pages/Birds...97551893588434

      Comment


      • #5
        I'm intrigued to learn about the different ways of starting the service in other places of this world.
        Over here, we have the bells ringing 10 minutes before the official start time of the service. When the bells have stopped, the organ starts with the prelude. Sometimes people continue talking, but that's rare. And the prelude leads into the first hymn unless the pastor specifically chooses to say something in between. But this has to be announced to the organist beforehand, otherwise he/she will start introducing the first hymn immediately after the prelude.
        It's totally up to us organists whether we improvise or play literature and also how long the piece can be. I guess that after 5 minutes people would grow a bit restless, but anything between 2 and 5 minutes is fine. Same goes for the postlude where people usually remain seated and listen.

        Recently I started experimenting by playing a piano piece instead of an organ prelude and so far, this has been well received, but I only do this if I want to accompany the first hymn or song with the piano instead of the organ.

        Comment


        • jbird604
          jbird604 commented
          Editing a comment
          If it isn't too far from the piano to the organ console, you can play a stanza on the piano, then let the congregation sing a capella while you get up and move to the organ for the latter stanzas. I used to be afraid to let the congregation sing without an instrument playing, but in recent years I've used a capella frequently to good effect. This past Sunday, we even sang the first stanza of the processional hymn a capella. I just used a hand chime to give us the pitch out in the narthex, and we walked in singing in full voice. When I arrived at the console, I sat down and began to play, somewhat surprised that we were precisely on key!

        • andijah
          andijah commented
          Editing a comment
          I like the idea, but in our case, the piano stands near the front whereas the organ is at the back of the church on the gallery. No quick changes between verses possible. And I'm afraid our congregation wouldn't sing a capella.

      • #6
        It seems to me that the pre-service tone is (or should be, at least) signaled by the worship leader, be that the pastor or other church leader. In my church, there is a general buzz as people are seated but then, about 5-8 minutes before the service start time, an elder gets up, gives a word or two of welcome (and generally asks folks to silence cell phones etc. - it's a large church), and then to quiet their hearts to prepare for the worship of the Lord. At that time, people then quiet down, and the prelude begins, lasting somewhere between 3 and 5 minutes. Anyone still filing in during that time usually remain relatively quiet.

        However, if the meditative tone that the church intends (if that is indeed the case) for the prelude is not signaled by a worship leader, how are people to know? There's nothing wrong with the fellowship time before church but having the start of the formal portion announced (and then lasting no more than 5 minutes) seems a good compromise. Other signals could include ushers closing narthex doors at the appointed time, hushing people, etc., but again - it has to be an intentional tone set by the church, in my opinion. Like other aspects of the communication necessary between organists and clergy/leadership, it seems this is a conversation concerned organists should have with their church leadership, even going so far as to suggest such measures be put in place to ensure the worshipful start to the service and the effective enjoyment of the prelude.

        By contrast, the organ postlude at my church is generally played amidst the hubbub of everyone greeting each other and filing out, but that's less of an issue given that those pieces are usually much louder and more celebratory than meditative!
        Inspired by greatness in others to aspire to play better myself
        -------
        Allen ADC-2010 (Digital, 1983)
        Allen 416-TH (Theater, 1975) - broken

        Comment


        • #7
          Originally posted by jbird604 View Post
          I'm a different class of organist than many of you guys, a perfectly serviceable hymn player and improviser, able to handle the normal service music in my quasi-liturgical Disciples church, but with no real recital music in my repertoire. With practice I could no doubt learn at least some simpler classical pieces, but my attempts at that have been sparse.
          John,

          I think perhaps you have hit on what tends to be disconcerting to some church musicians. No matter whether a musician is a concert musician, or hobbyist, the amount of practice that goes into some pieces can involve substantial amounts of a person's time. I know I've invested months, and sometimes even years, in pieces I have played for preludes in the past. There is one piano piece I've been working on for approximately 2 years now (mostly because of page turn difficulty and having no one available), however, I'd like to have it fluid before I play it.

          No matter the ability level, it makes it difficult to invest the time to prepare pieces at the upper edge of one's abilities, when one has the knowledge no one is going to listen anyway. It makes it much more difficult to expend the effort when one knows it won't be acknowledged in any way (by quiet during the prelude). I'm busy–my time can be expended much more constructively elsewhere and in other endeavors.

          Just my 2¢ worth.

          Michael
          Way too many organs to list, but I do have 5 Allens:
          • MOS-2 Model 505-B / ADC-4300-DK / ADC-5400 / ADC-6000 (Symphony) / ADC-8000DKC
          • Lowrey Heritage (DSO-1)
          • 9 Pump Organs, 1 Pipe Organ & 6 Pianos

          Comment


          • #8
            Originally posted by myorgan View Post
            No matter the ability level, it makes it difficult to invest the time to prepare pieces at the upper edge of one's abilities, when one has the knowledge no one is going to listen anyway.
            That's why, in recent years, more and more churches in my area have started to change the tradition of people leaving the building during the postlude to asking people to remain seated and listen, to give more appreciation to the musicians. In my main church, I put up a poster telling people which pieces I play and give some information on the composer. I know that some people actually read those posters.

            When I know that people will leave, I choose other pieces than in cases where I know they stay.

            Comment


            • #9
              What a different world it would be if people as a whole were thoughtful, respectful, appreciative, spiritually sensitive, and musically sophisticated enough to listen attentively to a beautifully played organ prelude while quietly meditating and preparing their hearts to engage in the ancient acts of faith, such as hearing the Scripture read, speaking together Psalms, prayers and creed, merging voices in glorious sacred song, testifying to Christ in the bread and wine.

              Such a world may well have existed in the past, and is surely attainable again, but we have a LONG way to go in this day when the norm is for folks entering church to shout and bellow and carry on like they would at a football game tailgate party. Sadly, for much of the human race today, there is no concept of the value in being quiet and receptive, no interest in reverence or humility or appreciation of high art in the service of God. It's all about me and my needs and how much fun I can have.

              Until the world turns, I'm afraid there will be fewer folks willing or even able to get still and enjoy a superbly played rendition of one of history's most sublime musical forms. Does that mean we give up and just stop playing? Surely not. Just maybe, if we keep the faith and do what we know how to do, there will be a small movement back in the direction of that respect and appreciation and sensitivity that has been lost in this fast-paced digital age.
              John
              ----------
              *** Please post your questions about technical service or repair matters ON THE FORUM. Do not send your questions to me or another member by private message. Information shared is for the benefit of the entire organ community, but other folks will not be helped by information we exchange in private messages!

              https://www.facebook.com/pages/Birds...97551893588434

              Comment


              • #10
                Originally posted by jbird604 View Post
                . . . Until the world turns, I'm afraid there will be fewer folks willing or even able to get still and enjoy a superbly played rendition of one of history's most sublime musical forms. Does that mean we give up and just stop playing? Surely not. Just maybe, if we keep the faith and do what we know how to do, there will be a small movement back in the direction of that respect and appreciation and sensitivity that has been lost in this fast-paced digital age.
                We organists can reach some of the people most of the time, but we'll never reach all the people all the time. My personal work ethics as a professional church organist is to always strive to bring the finest music selections and presentations (not performance) to each of my services. There ARE a good number of people in my congregation who DO appreciate what I am doing and are always telling me how much they enjoy the music I play each week. I have about three groups of people that will take their seats for the postlude every Sunday ... most of the choir does, as well.

                I will continue to ply my trade as best as I know how ... I will (and do) spend hours on registration and registration changes for each piece. I am my own worst critic ... it has to be the right way, every time, or I lose interest and will then no longer want to play. So far, into my 59th years as a professional church organist, I am still pleased with everything I play for church services. The "din" in the pews isn't going away anytime soon ... and it's been around for many years prior to current times.

                Interesting though that for evening services (Ash Wednesday, Maundy Thursday, Advent Mid-week) the congregation is eerily so very quiet. One could hear a pin drop on the floor before I begin my preludes for those services.

                Comment


                • #11
                  I think there are a number of issues that come together here.

                  THE PRELUDE ITSELF - Some are well-written or improvised; some are not. Some are well played; some are not. Some should be listened to; some should not.

                  RESPECT - Should always be present. Even if I, as a congregation member, have no interest in the prelude, if I need to speak with my neighbor in the pew, I would keep the volume down.
                  Reciprocally, if I, as organist, want to respect my congregation, I need to keep my preludes to an appropriate length and make sure they are of some musical interest.

                  ACOUSTIC SITUATION - My small congregation used to worship in a building that sat over 1,000. We numbered fewer than 100 and were very small related to the total air volume of the sanctuary. In that large space, even a comfortable conversation dissipated into the air and was easily covered by moderately soft organ music. The organ had the power and projection to fill the room, even when playing gently.

                  That same congregation has moved to a smaller space with great acoustics, but now they are a major part of that space - fewer square feet of floor, lower ceilings. Even moderate conversations will fill the entire room with sound. A grand piano is used. Even if there were an organ, voiced to suit the room, the comparative size of room and congregation, as well as the comparative volume of congregation and musical instrument, would work together to make any conversation sound much more predominant in the newer, smaller space.

                  LITURGICAL ACTION - There is the age-old question of whether "worship" begins before or after the prelude. In my own congregation, I'm going to raise the question "If worship begins with the prelude, why do we have a Call to Worship AFTER the prelude and announcements?"

                  IN MY OWN SITUATION - As a teenager, I and the other volunteer organists/pianists in our small-town church felt that we needed to be playing before the first congregation members entered the sanctuary, so we were on the bench playing through our list of familiar hymns at least 20 minutes before the service began.
                  - Now, I use the prelude as a signal that the service is about to begin. My preludes range from 2 to 5 minutes in length.
                  - Postludes last about a minute or two. The congregation is polite enough to remain seated during the postlude, but talking is common. I'm polite enough to not make them sit too long.

                  REVERENCE - The way we express this has changed over time. Someone once told me "Don't talk too loud in church - you might wake God up!" I remember growing up in an environment where it felt that if we spoke too loud or did the wrong thing in church, God would smite us. In those moments, he was The Judge, and not a nice one.
                  - While some may have made God too low-key, relaxed and familiar. there has to be a place somewhere in the middle.

                  FELLOWSHIP - In today's society, where loneliness is common, in spite of social media, the opportunity to connect with others is very important. For some in my congregation, this is one of their main opportunities to talk face-to-face with other church members. We don't have many mid-week programs that will bring people together.

                  LEGISLATING BEHAVIOR - I realize that there are times when we have to let people know what's expected of them. Other times, their behavior informs us how to plan our activities.
                  - We actually lost the battle for quiet during our last minister's time with us. He'd go on about how he wanted quiet, reflective time before the service. i accommodated by playing appropriate music. During one prelude, when everyone was quietly listening, there was a sudden laugh and I knew that someone in the congregation was cracking jokes. I was able to glance over to see who was doing it. It was the minister. My respect for him flew out the window that day, followed by the need to play funereal preludes, My preludes are now almost always joyous.
                  - Although it's not the same, I see legislated quiet as being similar to legislated faith, belief or conversion. There are places in the world where some people would love to force others to follow their own religion - this does include christians. To me, this is wrong and it causes me to consider how much of a Sunday morning's activities need to be legislated or just left to be.

                  Comment


                  • #12
                    Originally posted by regeron View Post
                    FELLOWSHIP - In today's society, where loneliness is common, in spite of social media, the opportunity to connect with others is very important. For some in my congregation, this is one of their main opportunities to talk face-to-face with other church members.
                    Could the people stay AFTER the service and talk then? Maybe they have more important things to do.

                    Michael
                    Way too many organs to list, but I do have 5 Allens:
                    • MOS-2 Model 505-B / ADC-4300-DK / ADC-5400 / ADC-6000 (Symphony) / ADC-8000DKC
                    • Lowrey Heritage (DSO-1)
                    • 9 Pump Organs, 1 Pipe Organ & 6 Pianos

                    Comment


                    • #13
                      I go to a church on a major University campus. Our choir has a large number of music students and the choir is seated by the organ console. The service over, they jump up and begin talking and not too subtly. I have to occasionally remind them we have a professional musician performing and if they expect to be respected while playing, they need to afford the organists this respect. I'm sorry but their music instructors don't seem to be emphasizing concert behavior. Or maybe they don't think this is a performance and it is just "elevator music".

                      Comment


                      • #14
                        My UMC congregations are more respectful of the Prelude, I guess. For one thing, the Prelude is not always done on the organ--we have several handbell choirs (adult and children) and sometimes one of them plays for the Prelude. We also have a string quartet, a bassoonist, several oboists and violinists, a cellist, and several trumpeters who are members, not to mention many fine vocalists--all of whom often are featured in the Prelude.

                        That being said, our Organists (we have several) are all capable of playing excellent organ works for a Prelude, and our congregations typically are fairly quiet while it is in progress. It helps, I think, that the name and composer are always listed in the Bulletin for the service--this gives the congregants something to focus on as it is being played. Sometimes the Prelude is followed by applause, sometimes not. (Nearly always yes if children are involved--I don't like it, but there it is.) However, it is an indication that the Prelude is listened to.

                        Postludes, OTOH, are almost always on the organ, and not always listed by name. They typically are fairly boistrous. I always stay in the loft to hear all of it, and quietly applaud when it's done. A few congregants may also cheer or applaud. (The service is over then, so I don't object--I was raised to not clap during a service.)

                        David

                        Comment


                        • jbird604
                          jbird604 commented
                          Editing a comment
                          Interesting thought, David. Especially about using children, handbells, etc., in the prelude. I feel quite sure that if we were to do that the crowd would totally stop talking and tune in, as it would be seen as more of a "special" part of the service, as opposed to the "business as usual" organ playing. I may try that.

                        • cham-ed
                          cham-ed commented
                          Editing a comment
                          I have often thought that the children, will never have a better audience even if they become a world famous performer. I am also uncomfortable with clapping except for the kids. It is so very important to encourage them. And I think God agrees.

                        • davidecasteel
                          davidecasteel commented
                          Editing a comment
                          cham-ed, although I do understand the need to encourage children in their musical activities, I think that applause during the service send the wrong message--it suggests that they are "performing" for an audience instead of "serving" the congregation. When I was in children's choirs (a long time ago, FWIW) we were told that we were not performing for the congregation but were offing our music to God. I think it is important to stress that.

                          FWIW, our congregations often applaud musical expression, both children and adult. It frankly bothers me--I was brought up that it was never appropriate to "clap" in church. It destroys the reverential atmosphere (for me, at least), and is especially abominable following a meditative anthem.

                      • #15
                        This is another thread that I have been following with interest, Davidcasteel, I think you may be on to something when you say "It helps, I think, that the name and composer are always listed in the Bulletin." I always listed the music in the bulletin. In later years I also included notes on the music.

                        Many people today do not have much musical education, especially of the sort played in church, so it is necessary to help them. I found this out years ago when I played Olivier Messiaen's Le Banquet Céleste (the Celestial Banquet) for a service. It is a very moving piece, but I realized that, while it meant a great deal to me, it would probably not be accessible to the average person, so I wrote notes on the piece for the bulletin. When I played it, you could have heard a pin drop. After the service, a number of people expressed appreciation for the notes. From then on, I prepared notes on the music for every service.

                        After the service, a number of people would remain seated until the conclusion of the postlude. However, I knew that they wanted to get to coffee and converse with their friends, so I tried to select shorter pieces. This would often mean that I would omit repeats, or possibly abridge a piece except for special times like Christmas and Easter.

                        Most people do not realize how much work a church musician puts into preparing for a service--work that is usually poorly compensated. Kudos to those of you who do this week after week.


                        Bill

                        My home organ: Content M5800 as a midi controller for Hauptwerk

                        Comment


                        • davidecasteel
                          davidecasteel commented
                          Editing a comment
                          I like to think that once in a while I do contribute something worthwhile. Even a blind squirrel occasionally finds a nut.
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