On Sunday, October 3, 1976, I assumed the role of organist for Vine Street Christian Church. For 36 years that role has been a vital part of my ministry in music along with many other responsibilities as Organist-Director of Music Ministries. Selecting music and providing organ and piano music for worship services and other occasions like funerals and weddings at Vine Street has been a privilege and a blessing for me. After Sunday, October 28, 2012, I will retire from that role! I look forward to some retirement fun but plan to continue to teach organ and piano privately. In the future I will also serve as supply organist in the Nashville area and at Vine Street.
The role of the organist at most churches includes selecting appropriate music for organ voluntaries, leading the congregatonal hymn singing and responses, and accompanying rehearsals and gifts of music provided by choirs and other musicians. The leadership of the organ in worship is a strong part of Vine Street's musical heritage. On my first Sunday at Vine Street, the October 3, 1976 bulletin includes this opening sentence: When the organ sounds let our conversations be directed to God in a spirit of reverence and awe. I do not know who wrote that statement but at the time, worship was to begin with the first note of the organ for the Prelude and ended with the last note of the Postlude.
The role of the organist in worship today continues to be an important one. Although Vine Street uses many additional musical resources in worship, the sound of the organ is strongly linked to our church experiences. "When the organ sounds" we can be called to a worship experience filled with moments of reflection, times of awe and reverence, songs of praise, and opportunities for dedication, healing, peace, and joy. It is important that we join together to commune with God through many gifts of music .
On my Retirement Sunday, October 28, I will play two organ selections based on the chorale "In Thee Is Gladness". Johann Sebastian Bach's traditional Baroque setting of the chorale will be the 10:45 Service Postlude. My 2:00 PM Retirement Celebration Concert will end with an "Afro-Cuban" dance setting by contemporary German composer Johannes Matthias Michel. Come share the gladness with me!
Blessings and peace, Julia
Soli Deo Gloria!