I have just started taking pipe organ lessons, so I will be interested in seeing how this thread goes.
I am not convinced that the Catholic Church really believes that the organ deserves a prominent place in the Mass. I have had no luck whatsoever finding a Catholic Church that will allow me to practice.
OTOH, one of the Lutheran churches, where only one person knows me, has actually given me a church key to go into the church whenever I can to practice. I gave the key back last week thinking that I finally had an “in” at my parish, but it hasn’t happened yet, and so now I have to go back to the Lutheran church and ask if I can have the key again.
Frankly, I don’t think this makes the Catholic Church look good at all. I’m embarrassed. I wish I had never started pipe organ lessons, but I do enjoy it and I’m willing to swallow my pride and practice whereever I am allowed to practice. I’ve actually considered asking if I can practice at the Unitarian Church, which is within easy walking distance of my house. The Unitarians would EAT that up, and that’s why I’m not doing it yet.
And like I said, if the Catholic Church REALLY wants the pipe organ played at Mass, it seems that they would encourage the PRACTICING of the pipe organ by students like myself who have expressed the clear goal of eventually being able to play the pipe organ instead of the piano at Mass.
OTOH, maybe they don’t understand that the pipe organ doesn’t just play itself, or that a pianist can’t just get up and play the pipe organ. I sometimes get the feeling on CAF that some posters believe that.
As for the OP’s query, here’s my answer as a beginning organ student who is working with an excellent Lutheran organist and music minister. The pipe organ should be played correctly, with the proper registration for each hymn or anthem. I’m guessing that problems occur when the organist selects inappropriate registrations for the hymns and anthems.
I also think that it’s important for the music director to make sure that the hymns and anthems are appropriate for the Mass.
I also think that in the U.S., there is a lot of confusion as to what musical literature is appropriate for Mass. I’m not just talking about contemporary music. There is a wealth of gorgeous organ literature that I’ve heard in Lutheran churches, but never in Catholic churches at Mass. The only organ music that I’ve heard in Catholic Mass is the most bland of music. I’m guessing that this is partially because there are not very many organists who can play Bach Preludes, and partially because when someone DOES step up and play a Bach Prelude, half the congregation applauds (which makes the other half angry), and half the congregation complains because the noise of the prelude made it impossible for them to pray before Mass.
And heaven forbid that the organist plays a postlude. After all, a Catholic is supposed to spend 15 minutes in silent prayer after Mass, and how can this happen if some prima dona organist is up there blasting Buxtehude!
:mad: !!! I find all this frustrating and confusing, and I can understand why there are so few musicians willing to take a position in a Catholic Church. (Also, there is the fact that Catholic Churches don’t pay anything to musicians.)
I hope this thread will clear up some of the questions about the pipe organ in the Mass.