Stanley Monkhouse Posted January 2, 2020 Share Posted January 2, 2020 A bit of background from my viewpoint: a cathedral-trained organist turned urban vicar after a 30 year career as a medical academic, now retired. The choral revival in the Church of England has lasted about 180 years. Together with other developments it’s provoked the evolution of the English organ. It's now waning. Some cathedral choirs are finding life difficult. Many (? most) parish church choirs have folded or are terminally ill. Congregations have been decimated. Hardly anybody under the age of 50, unless they've attended fee-paying schools, knows hymns other than Morning has broken, Sing Hosanna and Lord of all hopefulness (the Lord's Prayer too). The liturgy of the Church of England is changing. The need for organs to ‘paint the psalms’ has all but vanished outside (most) cathedrals. Many clergy are not interested in music that uses organs. Many clergy are not interested in the sort of liturgy that organs can enrich. Cathedral evensongs attract, but they’re now just an arm of the heritage industry for the middle classes who can afford to drive to them (fuel prices might have an effect there). Young people were never particularly keen to take up the organ. I attended state schools in the 1950s and 1960s and there were a few of us, even in Carlisle, but the situation is worse now, young organists coming almost exclusively from fee-paying schools. Any state school boy (I wouldn’t know about girls) interested in the arts is quite likely to have the ordure kicked out of him these days (I speak from personal and pastoral experience). It’s not kool or macho. Churches can hardly afford to keep the buildings going, let alone what’s in them. The average congregation numbers 27 and falling fast. The average age of a churchgoer is about 67 and rising fast—they’ll be dead soon. Churchgoing is just a hobby like hiking or climbing or knitting. The English public are not particularly interested in organs. Musicians tend to look down their noses at organs and organ music. So most organs won’t need to lead hearty congregational singing or paint the psalms. The English organ is, if you like, being freed from its churchy associations. What do you see as its future? Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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