Organ and Organist

J.S. Bach:

"To have good knowledge of playing and conducting, to understand how to treat an organ well and to take proper care of it, are qualities inevitably required of a good organist."

The Organ in Worship - Practically

And his brother’s name was Jubal: 
he was the father of all such as 
handle the harp and organ. 
Genesis 4:21 KJV

They take the timbrel and harp,  
and rejoice at the sound of the organ. 
Job 21:12 KJV 


No other instrument has been so intrinsically identified with worship and the church as has the organ. In traditional worship, the organ is the backbone of the musical service. It can provide gathering and exiting music, accompany the choirs and soloists, and enrich hymn and psalm singing for the congregation. But no matter what the task, the organ historically has been the instrument of worship. 

When the organ is played with authority, the organ can provide accompaniment and leadership for almost all types of congregational song. 

As churches and congregations pursue "renewal" in worship, in theology, in music, in congregational song, and in personal piety, the organ and the organist should not be considered obsolete. The organ has century old roots that are still vibrant and healthy, and can continue to be of service. In the hands of a competent musician who can play with sensitivity and skill, the organ can effectively accompany in a variety of styles and moods. 

The Organ in Today’s Worship

A church must concern itself with several elements of modern worship as its sets about considering its options in obtaining an organ. Four specific needs stand out. 

Support of Congregational Singing 
The organ will be most used, and most importantly used, in support of the congregation’s song. Today’s congregations expect and need strong support from the organ. Brightness, clarity, and liveliness of the sounds are far more necessary than sheer volume. No matter how loud it may be, a dull and ponderous tome will stifle the enthusiasm of the congregation in its effort to praise God in song.

Accompaniment of Choirs and Soloists 
An organ capable of accompanying a choir or soloist must have some sort of secondary, softer ensemble, in addition to the brighter, more present sound needed for leading congregational singing. It also must have a palette of sound colors that can be used to enhance and accent the texts and style of the music being sung. Or in the case of instrumentalists, blend beautifully with different instruments. e.g. Clarinet, Oboe, Flute, Violin, etc. 

Solo Liturgical Music 
Prelude, offertories, hymn introductions, and postlude should be integral parts of the worship service. Generally an organ which adequately supports congregational singing and accompanies choirs, etc. will also serve well for solo music used in other parts of the service. 

Recitals, Concerts, Etc. 
Lastly, the organ needs to be adequate to play enough literature so that it can give a respectable account of itself in a recital. Some may ask why recitals and concerts should even be considered in an organ project. As a church community we are always looking for way to share the Good News with all people in our community and beyond. By opening our doors to the outside and allowing people to come in and hear the beautiful music God has given to us, we are able to share a piece of that Good News with all. 

An organ with a proper design and installation for congregational singing, choir and soloist accompanying, service music, etc. will serve all these needs. 

Page Revised June 1998
Source: St. Matthew's Lutheran Church Wauwatosa, Wisconsinsfeugiat.


Musicians fulfill an important and necessary function in the Worship service. But whether fully trained professionals or ardent amateurs (translation: those who do it for love), all must remember that the purpose of the music is to glorify God, not to entertain the congregation or glorify themselves.
The motto of all ought to be:
Non nobis Domine, sed nomini tuo da gloriam!
(Not to us, Lord, but to your Name be all glory!)