Ode to the Organ
|Christ Church Cathedral|
|Magdelen College Chapel|
During my sojourn in England, I was treated to some very fine organ work. You will find pipe organs in churches of all sizes, along with the chapels of most of the Oxford Colleges. The music at Christ Church Cathedral (Oxford) and St. Paul's Cathedral (London) was led from the organ (along with men and boys choirs). I was treated to recitals at Magdelen (pronounced Mawd-lin) College (Oxford) and Westminster Abbey (my only opportunity for entrance to the Abbey since I worshiped in the morning at St. Paul's).
I realize that not everyone likes the organ. For some it is an anachronism, a left over from a bygone age that needs replacing with guitar and drums. Now, I like guitar and drums, so don't get me wrong. I'm not a traditionalist for tradition's sake. But is the organ out of date? Indeed, is the hymn out of date, needing to be replaced by praise songs? (Again, don't get me wrong, I enjoy singing praise songs).
|Magdelen College Hall|
So, why the organ? Well, some hymns just do better with the organ (and some do better with piano or even guitar). The organ offers a sense of grandeur, of transcendence, that I think we need at times. It is, you might even say, a counter-cultural instrument in our day. Indeed, it maybe that more traditional hymns are counter-cultural. And, in an age of cultural conformity, isn't it worth rethinking what is counter-cultural?!
|Methodist Central Hall London|