- By Admin
- Posted on December 2, 2014
- In Organs, Stone Houses
- With 0 Comments
The “activity bus,” as it was known, was the only way home for one student athlete living more than 15 miles from the school. It was an hour and a half trip through rural Western Pennsylvania, where stone houses are rare, but I relished passing the old museum on Route 8, hoping one day to see inside. Though I never was able to tour it, the house captivated my attention to such an extent that the bank and I now own one – a dream nearly realized. It was not an acquisition for the faint of heart, as the only stone house an organist of modest ability might afford in Chester County was one that needed plenty of attention, and that involving specialized “antique” trades. It was during this period that I became a “preservation” mason, specializing in restoration of old stone structures, which I have since given up due to the rigor of the work and its inevitable toll as my age increases.
As then an organist and a preservation mason, many came to regard me as a “champion of the dying arts.” From the stone mason side, I relished the comment, however, from the organist side, a sort of hollow dread would gnaw at my mind. Thinking of organs and organ music as passing away was shuddering. How was this happening and why?
I began hearing anecdotes of organists who were “retired” in their mid-fifties and sixties because their church did not need them or could not afford them anymore. Some of these men and women had given 30 or more years to a church, only to be graciously or ungraciously dismissed. The thought of having to leave friends, locate a new position, audition, interview or take up a new vocation so late in life was troubling even if home-relocation was not necessary.
Ecclesiastes 7:10 cautions, “Do not say, ‘Why were the former days better than these?’ For you do not inquire wisely concerning this.” I want to disagree, but also want to be wise. The question still requires further answer and investigation: why is this happening and can it be reversed or at least arrested? I still have no answers and must confess a bit of pessimism in my outlook, if only in the back of my mind.
Unfortunately, all I might offer is more analysis of the situation, but true solutions will have the following issues with which to contend:
- Church Decline, in substance, influence and attendance
- Cultural Decline, where the individual is the measure of all things
- Aesthetic Decline
Dr. Frank Gaebelein has analyzed in his book, “The Christian, the Arts and the Truth,” that we suffer decay in the areas of Truth, Beauty and Goodness. It is not a cynical complaint as we often hear, but one that recognizes that the fight against decay is a fact of temporal, earthly life. Even the stone house, for all of the vaunted appearance of strength and durability, will not withstand time and nature’s erosive force without specialized attention. So, as far as solutions, perhaps our focus as organists should not be global or comprehensive, but local and specific address of this decay. Let’s get to work then on our “own house” – not the decor or conveniences, but the foundations, the architecture and the structure.
“Do not say, ‘Why were the former days better than these?’ For you do not inquire wisely concerning this.”
Truth, Beauty and Goodness are ultimately found in God the Father, Son and Holy Ghost. “For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.” (Col. 1:16-18, NKJV)