The use of the organ in protestant church services between 1886 and 1938.  Part3:  The accompanying of congregational singing

by Jan Smelik | Het ORGEL | Year 115 | (2019) | Issue 4

Worp 1874 Psalm 130

What was the consensus about accompanying of congregational singing, what were the problems and ideals, and what was done in practice?  If one looks in volumes of Het Orgel for positive reports about congregational singing, one won’t find much.  And when words of appreciation are used, they often refer to ideals rather than the practice.  Congregational singing, accompanied by organ, can evoke uplifting religious feelings, e.g. through elements such as massiveness, volume of sound, or stately tempo.

Improvement of congregational singing could be achieved especially when the organist would ‘play the words’.  By far the most writers in Het Orgel were of the opinion that an organist must pay attention to the text when accompanying congregational singing.  This text had to influence the registrations and dynamics of the accompaniment and also the harmonization.  Also the ‘phrasing’, i.e. the playing of the punctuation, was seen as a possibility to improve congregational singing.