What is the most important musical instrument in worship? If you were in the late service on December 16 or January 27, you heard the organ malfunction and quit playing suddenly in the middle of worship. It actually served as a good reminder for us all – as wonderful of an instrument as our organ is, it is NOT the most important instrument in worship! On those days, our worship went on in spite of the organ malfunction, sometimes with our beautiful piano accompanying us, and sometimes with only our unaccompanied voices.
What’s the most important instrument in worship? You! Your voice - no matter how strong or timid, no matter how in tune or out of tune it may be. The bottom line is this: Christ’s church sings. The Lord himself is our song (Ex. 15:2) and the church sings because God himself sings with us (Zeph. 3:14-17).
To get a little more specific, the answer isn’t only “you”, but rather it is “us.” We sing together as one community with our voices raised in response to God’s love for us. “It is not I who sing, but the church,” writes Dietrich Bonhoeffer.
I love the organ. I love its many colors, nuances, and subtleties. I love the way it leads singing. But I love the singing even more! I will miss the organ while it is unplayable for repairs in these coming weeks. Let’s use this time to remind ourselves that when we, together, raise our voices in worship, with accompaniment or without, this is genuine music made by real people. Let’s use our instruments well.
Director of Music
Dr. Jeffrey Blersch is Director of Music at Pacific Hills Lutheran Church in Omaha Nebraska
Jeffrey Blersch is Professor of Music at Concordia University, Nebraska, where he teaches organ, music theory, and is the conductor of the Cantamus Women’s Choir. Blersch is a graduate of the Oberlin College Conservatory of Music where he received degrees in organ performance and music education, and of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, where he earned the Doctor of Musical Arts in Organ Performance.