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In good times and in bad: Die stormagtige verhouding tussen kerk en die orrel – is egskeiding onafwendbaar?

Ockie C. Vermeulen

Verbum et Ecclesia; Vol 36, No 1 (2015), 11 pages. doi: 10.4102/ve.v36i1.1349

Submitted: 07 April 2014
Published:  28 May 2015


In good times and in bad: The tumultuous relationship between the church and the organ - is divorce inevitable? Through the ages, a delicate relationship has existed between the church and the pipe organ. Since the 10th century, the organ established itself as a unique instrument in service of worship. This relationship was not always a steady one, and this article investigates the tumultuous affair between the two parties. In part one of the article, which is a historic perspective, the relationship is discussed by looking at different cultures and uses of the organ in the worship service. This gives a sense of when and how the relationship came into being and developed or deteriorated. In part two, the current situation in the Afrikaans Reformed service is explored by conducting several unstructured interviews with key role players in the theological and musical world of South Africa. In part three, the study ventures into speculating about the future of the organ in the worship service by briefly looking at the attitude of the organist and spirituality of the postmodern church goer. In essence, this article reflects on whether the marriage between church and music instrument is solid or on its way to the divorce court.

Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: The relationship between organ and church has to be reconsidered. The use of the organ in the worship service has to be taken under scrutiny, and a new relationship agreement between the two partners has to be formulated.

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Author affiliations

Ockie C. Vermeulen, Department of Music, North-West University, Potchefstroom Campus, South Africa


Organ, church, spirituality, postmodern, Afrikaans reformed church, South Africa,


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ISSN: 1609-9982 (print) | ISSN: 2074-7705 (online)

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