Students of the Bible are celebrating this week's discovery of the long-lost 29th chapter of Acts, found deep within a remote cave in southern Palestine. The ancient scrolls are still in good condition, according to scholars who translated them into English and put them online for all to read.
Chapter 29 concerns a problem still shared by many Christian churches today. It reads:
"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 then hath he done unto thee, that is 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 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 few 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 to encourage them.'
Then Paul turned to the mob and said loudly, 'Let him who hath played an organ, both keys and pedals, 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, Paul bade the organist repent, and he did."
The authenticity of these scrolls has yet to be verified, but their lesson is a valuable one. Let's salute the men and women who faithfully accompany us as we sing in church. Led by love, they lift our spirits week after week, with few vacations and fewer pats on the back.
If you agree church organists are sometimes taken for granted, please pause after church this Sunday to give your musician a hug of thanks, just as Paul did in Acts 29.