Sometimes I wince when I play the piano. I can't help myself. It's such an ugly, terrible instrument. This is compounded by the fact that I am a poor piano player.
The piano is a violent instrument; it thrives on attack. The organ is peaceful; it responds to release.
When playing the piano, notes must be played with awful decision and striking force. When playing the organ, sounds can be caressed out of the instrument as the finger's motion corresponds to air entering the pipes.
When a pianist makes an errant decision or motion, the note has been struck and sounds just as forcefully as do correct pitches.
When an organist makes an errant decision or motion, there is often time to remove the finger from the key without the mistake sounding fully.
In this way, the organ is "slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love" (Ps. 103:8).
Who would dream of putting a heathen piano in a church, the realm of the holy organ?
To whom then will you compare me,
or who is my equal? says the Holy One.
To what can we compare the organ, the King of Instruments?
The organ's love and superiority, however, come at a cost: weight.
Organs weigh a lot, sure, but organists have to deal with the weight of sustaining pitch. Whether this is tenuously achieved through electric means, or geniunely achieved through the heaviness of a mechanical relationship, the organist is keenly aware of this responsibility: the duty of duration.
‘Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.’
Labels: Advent 2006, organ
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