The Scottish Churches and the Organ in the Nineteenth Century

Inglis, James (1987) The Scottish Churches and the Organ in the Nineteenth Century. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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"The use of organs in the public worship of God is contrary to the law of the land, and to the law and constitution of our Established Church". This was the opinion of the Presbytery of Glasgow when it condemned the use of an organ in St. Andrew's Church, Glasgow, in 1807, the first use of a musical instrument in public worship by any presbyterian congregation in Scotland. So began the controversy in Scotland about what came to be known as "the organ question", a controversy which continued through the nineteenth century and into the twentieth. A presbyterian congregation attempted to use an organ in 1829, but in 1850 church organs in Scotland were still confined to episcopal and Roman catholic places of worship and to a few chapels of small minority sects. By then organs were widely used among nonconformists in the north of England. During the fifties, some Scottish independent congregations and two English presbyterian congregations followed their example, and two Scottish presbyterian congregations attempted to do so but were prevented by their Church courts. From 1863 onwards, instruments began to appear in churches of the establishment. By 1866 the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland had made it clear that it saw no objection in principle to the use of organs, and the U. P. Church and the Free Church permitted their use in 1872 and 1883 respectively. Once introduced, instrumental music proved popular, and the Church of Scotland, in which there had been none before 1863, found in 1906 that instruments were used by about nine-tenths of its congregations. The "continuing" Free Church, a small minority, maintained its opposition, and ordered the removal of an organ in 1 908. The organ controversy in Scotland has been virtually ignored by church historians and organ historians alike. This thesis is therefore largely concerned with establishing the facts. It examines the arguments used in the debate and traces the history of the adoption of instru- mental music in each of the major Scottish denominations. It relates instrumental music to other innovations which were transforming Scottish worship; it examines the initiation and implementation of organ projects by congregations, the nature of the instruments, how space was found for them in church buildings, how they were used in worship, and how organists were found to play them. Finally, it assesses briefly the various factors which contributed to the general desire for instrumental music in Scottish worship. Attention is drawn to an extensive pamphlet literature, most items of which have remained unnoticed since the era of their publication.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Religious history, Music history
Date of Award: 1987
Depositing User: Enlighten Team
Unique ID: glathesis:1987-76650
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 19 Nov 2019 13:58
Last Modified: 19 Nov 2019 13:58

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