Sundial: For those who faithfully accompany us
By Dave Horn
Students of the bible are celebrating last month's discovery of the
long-lost 29th chapter of Acts, found deep within a hidden cave in
southern Palestine. The ancient scrolls are in good condition,
according to scholars, who translated them into English and put them
on the internet for all to see. Chapter 29 concerns a problem still
shared by many churches today.
"And it came to pass, when Paul was at Corinth, he and certain
disciples came upon a mob that was about to stone an organist. And
Paul said unto them, 'What hath he done unto thee, that his head
should be bruised?'
"And the people cried with one voice, 'He hath played too loud! Yea,
in the singing of psalms he maketh our heads to ring, as if they were
beaten by hammers. Behold, he sitteth up high in the loft, and mighty
are the pipes, and mighty is the noise thereof, and though there be
few of us below, he nonetheless playeth with all the stops; the
Assyrian trumpet stop, and the sound of the ram's horn stop, and the
stop that soundeth like the sawing of stone, and we cannot hear the
words that cometh out of our own mouths. He always tosseth in
variations that confuse us mightily, and he playeth always in militant
tempo so we have not time to breathe as we sing. Lo, he is a plague
upon the faith and should be chastised.
"Hearing this, Paul himself picked up a small stone and was about to
cast it, but he set it down and bade the organist come forth. He was a
narrow man, pale of complexion, thin of hair, who took no vacations.
And Paul saith unto him, 'Why hast thou so abused thy brethren?'
"And the organist replied, 'I could not hear them singing from where I
sat, and therefore I played the louder so as to encourage them.'
"Then Paul turned to the mob and said loudly, 'Let him who hath played
a five-manual pipe organ with full pedal board cast the first stone.'
"And they looked within themselves and departed, beginning with the
music professor, even unto the sixth-grade piano student. And
embracing him warmly, Paul bade the organist repent, and he did."
While the authenticity of these scrolls has yet to be verified, their
lesson is a valuable one, according to at least one local church
Joyce Sheneman plays an electronic keyboard at Bremen's Church of the
Brethren. When asked recently why it's so hard to find church
musicians nowadays, she said commitment and time are big reasons.
"Who has time to commit to practice during the week and then play on
Sunday?" she asked. "When I first started playing, I had young
children who often acted up when Mom was at the piano. I've been very
fortunate in our church to share the playing with two other people
over the last 40 years. This lightens the load of playing every week.
Playing may be time consuming, but it definitely brings a sense of
accomplishment, especially when someone says to you on Sunday morning
'The song you played for offertory meant a lot to me; thank you.'”
This week's Sundial column salutes the men and woman like Joyce who
faithfully accompany us as we sing in church. Led by love, they lift
our spirits week after week, with few vacations and even fewer pats on
If you agree that church musicians are sometimes taken for granted,
please pause after worship this Sunday to give your musician a warm
embrace, just as Paul did in Acts 29.
**Dave Horn’s column appears monthly in The Bremen Enquirer. It’s called “Sundial,” because, as Dave puts it, “I record only the sunny hours.” He can be reached via email at email@example.com.