One of the most frequent things I was told when I started at Pacific Hills was that everyone loves the organ so much! Being an organist, I was thrilled to hear this! The organ is a big part of worship, not just at Pacific Hills, but at many churches. It begins the service, it ends the service, and it leads everyone in singing. Have you ever thought about how the organ became the instrument of choice for worship?
While the evolution of the pipe organ takes its roots before the times of ancient Greece, the organ as we know it today began its development in the Catholic Church during the medieval times. During those times, they created large pipes that were powered by a key- board that had air bellows that people had to manually operate throughout the service to utilize the organ. The keys of the organ were so heavy and big that you often had to play with your fists or feet (thus the development of the pedal board) just to be able to just play one key. Even with all these challenges, the organ was chosen as the instrument to help lead worship because of its ability to endlessly sustain a note so long as it has an air supply, and its unique voicing to seamlessly blend with the human voice and breathe with the congregation in singing. As time progressed, the mechanics of the organ evolved to make it more efficient and easier to operate, allowing for larger and larger instruments to be built. This took the organ's part in worship from sustaining a note underneath congre- gational singing, to having complex accompaniments to hymns along with preludes and postludes within about 200 years. Minus some luxuries such as using electricity to power the blower for air and some computer components to make changing sounds instantane- ous for the organist, the organ itself remains quite unchanged since the 1500s.
With its large size, the organ is able to have numerous types of pipes that are voiced to mimic different instruments and sounds, all being controlled by one person. This enables each church to essentially have its own orchestra at hand, part of why the organ earned the title the King of Instruments. With its seemingly endless capabilities and single person operation, the organ has maintained its position as the preferred instrument of most churches.
In Christ, Zach Hastings Director of Music
Zach studied organ performance at Iowa State University, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Music in 2016. He has been an organist, bell choir director, and director of worship primarily in the central Iowa area. He continually seeks opportunities to grow as a musician through various conferences and seminars. Zach currently serves on the Central Iowa American Guild of Organists (AGO) Executive Committee, and on the American Guild of Organists Young Organists (AGOYO) National Board.