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letters | A REPRISE ON HALLOWED PLACE OF THE CHURCH ORGAN

Instrument serves a purpose, but in wrong hands . . .

Jennifer Graham (“Save the Church! (kill the organs),” Op-ed, Oct. 25) misses the point about church organs. They are used extensively in most Christian churches not for their capacity to amuse, entertain, or even frighten, but because they are the best instrument to lead and support congregational singing. To put it bluntly, they are not principally solo instruments.

Organ recitals around the world are generally poorly attended — most great composers did not write volumes of work for this instrument — but this has no bearing on the use of the organ for worship.

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The Anglican Church, which many consider to have the highest-quality church music of any denomination, uses the organ almost exclusively as its instrument of choice. The organ enhances and strengthens the great hymns sung by the people; it accompanies choir anthems; it provides quiet music in solemn moments; it sends people on their way with a stirring voluntary at the end of the service.

The Catholic Church has many problems related to its music, but these stem from the inability or unwillingness of congregations to participate through singing. These are compounded by the insistence of US church leaders on the provision of music not for its artistic value but merely for its utility.

If music in any Catholic church these days had the power to instill an emotion as strong as fear, I would be surprised.

Paul Carey

London

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