What About the Organ in Church?
How does the organ fit into a revival-type service? Like so many things in life, this question is only apparently simple. There are several considerations that are important about the organ.
In the first place, we do not believe that the organ is some kind of mystically sacred instrument that must be used exclusively for church music.
We do not believe that the organ is some kind of mystically sacred instrument that must be used exclusively for church music.
In liturgical Catholic and Protestant services, the pipe organ was considered the instrument of central importance for the church. In many churches, it was the only instrument allowed.
As late as the 1950s and 1960s, it was not uncommon for formal Baptist churches to exclusively use the organ on Sunday morning, saving the piano for the “gospel” service on Sunday night. Many of those churches did not use a song leader on Sunday morning, but they did on Sunday night.
Some people who are familiar with this tradition believe that God is displeased with any other instrument in church. The best answer for this concern is Psalm 150. In this psalm, we read, “praise him with stringed instruments and organs. Praise him upon the loud cymbals: praise him upon the high sounding cymbals.” Here, the Bible is clear about the fact that God approves of instruments other than the organ; thus, a pastor is fully justified in using a variety of instruments in the church service.
Here at North Valley, we follow the old-fashioned notion (mentioned by Dr. John Rice and others) that the organ is not the lead instrument in the service. Instead, the piano is the lead instrument. Largely because of its brightness of tone and its ability to impart a sense of enthusiastic fervor, the piano is the lead instrument in our church (we actually use four pianos for the congregational singing!); and the organ provides a beautiful harmonic background that, to some at least, fleshes out the musical sound.
In many contemporary churches, the organ has become a completely obsolete instrument. As they toss out any vestige of the traditional style and curiously fawn after all that is popular with worldly musical styles, they don’t even like the memory of the organ and the traditional services associated with it. Sadly, some churches begin each service by singing one traditional hymn with organ accompaniment. After that, the rock music begins! It is difficult to understand the logic of people who would do this kind of thing, but it seems to say, “We know just exactly how far we are pushing out the traditional songs, and we don’t plan to change.”
Here at North Valley, we do not worship organ music; but we do enjoy it. We do not believe it to be the exclusive instrument that is divinely appointed for use in the church, but we certainly enjoy using it week by week.