The motto of the American Guild of Organists is one which every church musician would do well to study. We reproduce it in full, believing that our church leaders will be interested to see that a cultural group such as the guild of organists recognizes and emphasizes the spiritual standards essential for all true worship.
AMERICAN GUILD OF ORGANISTS
SOLI DEO GLORIA
Declaration of Religious Principles
For the greater glory of God, and for the good of His Holy Church in this land, we, being severally members of the American Guild of Organists, do declare our mind and intention in the things following :
We believe that the office of music in Christian worship is a sacred oblation before the Most High.
We believe that they who are set as choir masters and as organists in the House of God, ought themselves to be persons of devout conduct, teaching the ways of earnestness to the choirs committed to their charge.
We believe that the unity of purpose and fellowship of life between ministers and choirs should be everywhere established and maintained.
We believe that at all times and in all places it is meet, right, and our bounden duty to work and to pray for the advancement of Christian worship in the holy gifts of strength and nobleness ; to the end that the Church may be purged of her blemishes, that the minds of men may be instructed, that the honor of God's house may be guarded in our time and in the time to come.
Therefore we do give ourselves with reverence and humility to these endeavors, offering up our works and our persons in the name of Him, without whom nothing is strong, nothing is holy. Amen.
These are high standards. Not only should our musicians seek to reach such standards, but pastors and church elders also might well study these principles with profit. When we sense that music in Christian worship "is a sacred oblation before the Most High," it becomes a check on all of us whose work it is to arrange and lead out in our worship services.
It is sometimes difficult, particularly in smaller churches, to get the kind of musicianship that true worship rightly demands. But in whatever we must come short, let us be sure, in choosing leaders for this important work, that we maintain, above all things, a standard of spiritual life and devotion.
As this motto declares, choir masters and organists "ought themselves to be persons of devout conduct"; persons who sense their "duty to work and to pray for the advancement of Christian worship . . . that the church may be purged of her blemishes." In seeking the services of those musically qualified to lead out in this branch of worship, naturally our choices swing to those technically trained for such work, but there are also qualities of reverence, devotion, and humility that are essential qualities for so high a service. If music is an art, then those who lead worship should be artists. All that is crude and clumsy must be avoided if we would worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.
R. A. A.