Fewer take up pipe organ, but its place as ‘voice of church’ secure

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March 9, 2015

Music director plays pipe organ at Virginia Catholic church

Paul Skevington, director of music at St. Luke Church in McLean, Va., is seen playing the pipe organ at the church Feb. 2. Although fewer people are taking up the pipe organ, its status in U.S. Catholic churches is secure, say church musicians.(CNS photo/Katie Scott, Catholic Herald)

ARLINGTON, Va. (CNS) — From the softest pianissimo to the most dramatic swells of sound, the pipe organ’s range and capacity to lift the voice and spirit accord it “pride of place” among instruments used in Catholic liturgy.

It “gives resonance to the fullness of human sentiments, from joy to sadness, from praise to lamentation,” said Pope Benedict XVI in 2006 during an organ blessing. “The manifold possibilities of the organ in some way remind us of the immensity and the magnificence of God.”

But recent headlines strike a somber note for the majestic instrument: “As number of church organists declines, fears of a dying art”; “Soaring instrument appeals to fewer churches”; “The decline of the church organ.”

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