Ocean Grove Great Auditorium Organ

LEADERTIMES WEEKEND RELIGION ARTICLE FOR

September 6, 2014 by William H. Scarle, Jr. 813-835-0129

Johan Sebastian Bach was a church musician. Much of his work was createdfor use in Sunday services, and it was not unusual for him to writenew music for every service. At the top of his manuscripts he wouldwrite out the phrase, “For the glory of God alone.” Bach saw music as a gift of God to be used for his worship and to his glory.

It was not that Bach did not write secular music. He did. But when hewrote non liturgical melodies the attitude was not much different. For the master musician, “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein.”

During my time in New Jersey I have been living with two professional musicians, my daughter and her husband. Grace is also Pastor of theCalvary Baptist Church of Belmar. As I mentioned last week theexposure to Ocean Grove Camp Meeting has presented me withopportunities to enjoy rich musical experiences. One of the highlights of these experiences is the Ocean Grove Great Auditorium Organ which almost daily proclaims the glory of God in music.

The Ocean Grove organ today has a total of 11,550 pipes. It is one ofthe grandest concert organs in the world. It is usually played byGordon Turk who is the Organist in Residence at Ocean Grove, and hasbeen for some forty years. Gordon not only plays the organ butassists in its maintenance and additions. In an organ recital lastSaturday Gordon made some announcements following the program ofupcoming events. He finished the announcements by reminding hisaudience not to miss worship on Sunday. His ministry is and alwayshas been, “For the glory of God alone.”

Eight thousand persons were present on July 3, 1908 when the Ocean Grove organ was dedicated. It was built by Robert Hope, an English organbuilder and originally had 15 ranks of pipes including a 32 inch low“C” which weighed one ton. It was rebuilt in 1934 and in 1970. It now has 189 ranks and requires six blowers which produce airpressure from 3” to 25.”

In a concert on last Saturday Gordon put the organ through its paces in a piece written by Clarence Kohlmann, a previous organist at the Grove. He made it rain (just the sound, not the water), thunder,lighting, blowing wind, along with the sound of church bells, bugles,and beautiful melodies.

At the end of the concert Gordon made some announcements and invited the audience to plan a visit next year when they might hear some new effects on this amazing instrument. Like myself, many of thelisteners wondered what else there was that could be added.

I asked my son-in-law Michael if he knew when in Western civilization the scoring, or writing down musical notations, began. I knew we hadno idea what Greek music or even Hebrew music sounded like. Itexisted but there is no written record of its composition. I got myanswer. Pope Gregory developed the scoring of music for theGregorian Chants that we still enjoy.

Once again the science of music, along with the science of everything else we enjoy in our civilization, came from the Christian community.

Ithink the plans are to attend another concert at the Grove thisevening (Labor Day). Music dedicated to the glory of God alone!

Everygood gift comes from the God of creation giving joy to the world thathas eyes to see and ears to hear.

(BillScarle can be contacted at ravscarle@verizon.net).END-whs

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