Pedals, Pipes, and Pizza is coming to Pittston!

PPPThe pipe organ has been called the “King of Instruments.” The sounds of the pipe organ have inspired worshippers for centuries. Great composers have written countless works for the instrument. Pipe organs have been installed in some of the world’s most prestigious concert halls and theaters. The American Guild of Organists is passionate about the pipe organ and we want to share our love with a new generation.

Join us on Sunday, November 13 at St. John the Evangelist Church in Pittston from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m. for Pedals, Pipes, and Pizza. Participants will receive a behind the scenes tour of the instrument in addition to a chance to play it themselves (and eat some pizza!). All are welcome to attend. Students currently studying the piano are encouraged to bring a piece to play on the organ


Job Opportunity: St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, Scranton

Job Description for Organist and Choirmaster

We are seeking a dynamic musician and enthusiastic individual with extraordinary abilities in playing organ literature (including improvisation), leading congregational hymnody and service music, and choral conducting. The individual we seek is also able to exercise high levels of leadership, organization, graceful communication and work collaboratively with varied teams, including clergy. The Organist and Choirmaster will serve as contractor providing musical support for worship at one weekly Sunday service and holy days for St. Luke’s Episcopal Church. The Organist and Choirmaster, as a contractor, may be asked to play at weddings and funerals and would be free to set the fee for these occasions in accordance with the guidelines of the American Guild of Organists, and as appropriate to local customs.

St. Luke’s is an inclusive, historic parish in downtown Scranton with a rich history of musical excellence. We are a congregation that understands this importance of music as an integral part of our liturgy and worship. We value our affiliations with numerous musical and performing art organizations in Scranton including the Lyric Consort, Arcadia Chorale, and the Choral Society of Northeastern Pennsylvania. The pipe organ in St. Luke’s is a 1964, 24 rank, 3-manual, M. P. Möller instrument (Op. 9916).

At St. Luke’s we hope our music program and ministries will grow in new ways with the arrival of our new Organist and Choirmaster, while holding true to our Anglican and parish traditions. By further developing and growing our music ministries, we seek to support stronger connections within the church and more involvement with the broader community, through spreading the joy of music in worship, education, and outreach. With the anticipated growth of our music ministry, we hope in time to expand the position of the Organist and Choirmaster to a salaried position offering compensation that is competitive and in accord with AGO guidelines, commensurate with qualifications and experience, as well as benefits prescribed by The Episcopal Church.

If interested in applying for this position, please email the following to The Rev’d Rebecca A. Barnes, Priest-in-Charge (

• Résumé
• Three references

We will begin reviewing résumés and auditioning applicants on October 15, 2016.

For the audition applicants should be prepared to play:

Two pieces of contrasting examples from literature for organ
Three verses from two hymns of contrasting styles; including at least one verse of each reharmonized
Provide a list of hymns and anthems you would suggest for one of the following feast days:

o All Saint’s
o Christ the King
o Christmas 11pm – The “ChristMass”

The Organist/Choirmaster Specifications

Choir Direction, Repertoire, and Organ Playing

  1. Providing organ music (including improvised music) for the Sunday Sung Eucharist and Holy Days, including Christmas Eve services, Christmas Day, Feast of the Epiphany, Wednesday in Holy Week (Tenebrae Service), Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, The Great Vigil of Easter, Saint Luke’s Day, October 18th (if observed outside of a Sunday service), and Thanksgiving Day. Music to be offered includes the playing of a prepared prelude and postlude; supporting hymnody, psalmody, and service music; accompanying and rehearsing anthems and service music with the professional singers and/or choir.
  2. Select repertoire for the liturgical year in consultation with the Priest-in-Charge and in cooperation with professional singers and affiliated choral ensembles.
  3. Oversee music for all special and occasional services including weddings, funerals, and public events, in consultation with the Priest-in-Charge and in cooperation with professional singers, affiliated choral ensembles, and/or guest artists.
  4. Perform other musical duties, as assigned.

Qualifications for the Organist and Choirmaster

  1. Minimum of a university or conservatory degree in music and/or equivalent experience.
  2. The Organist and Choirmaster ideally will be an expert musician who appreciates a broad spectrum of musical styles, is familiar with Episcopal Church liturgy, and is adept at employing music in support of the worship service.
  3. Must be proficient in organ playing, including knowledge in registrations and ability to improvise or provide appropriate incidental music.
  4. Must be knowledgeable in choral repertoire and have demonstrated experience in choral conducting and/or working with church choirs.
  5. Must be proficient in sight-reading.
  6. Organist and Choirmaster is one who views his/her role as a ministry that extends beyond the organ bench and rehearsal room, and understands that they are a vital component of the church’s ministry and mission.

Time requirements

  1. Plays at least forty-eight (48) Sundays per year (and holy days as detailed above), with time commitment of approximately 2 1⁄2 hours each Sunday: one hour and fifteen minutes prior to service for rehearsal and prelude; one hour and fifteen minutes for the service.
  1. Holy Days would entail a similar time requirement as the Sunday Sung Eucharist
  2. The Organist and Choirmaster, as a contractor, may be asked to play at weddings and funerals and would be free to set the fee for these occasions in accordance with the guidelines of the American Guild of Organists, and as appropriate to local customs.
  3. Additional rehearsals may be scheduled and compensated for with prior consultation and consent of the Priest-in-Charge.

The Organist and Choirmaster, as a contractor is paid by the service. Compensation is negotiable commensurate with experience.

Vacation/Time off
The Organist and Choirmaster may take four (4) Sundays off, with at least two weeks written notice given to the Priest-in-Charge, and arrangements made by the contract Organist and Choirmaster for a substitute organist to play and conduct choral music.

Accountability and Collaboration

  1. The Organist and Choirmaster reports to the Priest-in-Charge. In accordance with Diocesan and Episcopal Church guidelines, the Organist and Choirmaster must comply with Safe Church requirements.
  2. The Organist and Choirmaster may be requested to attend periodic meetings on music and liturgy with the Priest-in-Charge and other relevant parties.
  3. The Organist and Choirmaster will work collaboratively and communicate effectively with parish staff, professional singers and/or choir members, and affiliated ensembles. The Organist and Choirmaster may be requested to communicate through announcements during worship time, when appropriate; and assist with offering a yearly summary of the music program in the church’s annual report.
  4. The Organist and Choirmaster may arrange with the Priest-in-Charge for rehearsal time in the church. They shall consult in advance with, and receive permission from, the Priest-in-Charge regarding any appearances, performances, concerts, lectures, or teaching commitments occurring on church property that are outside of specific responsibilities of the position as described above.

Music as Rx

julius_kronberg_david_och_saul_1885Suppose you have been feeling distressed and fatigued of late and this has manifested itself  in some physical symptoms. You’ve been having headaches; your lower back has been aching; and there has been a great deal of tightness around your neck and shoulders. You go to your family physician and after she examines you she says: “You’re suffering from severe stress and I prescribe this. Each morning when you wake and every evening before bedtime, listen for one half hour to music and choose from one of the following: Debussy’s Afternoon of a Fawn, Bach’s Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring, Samuel Barber’s Adagio For Strings, or Aaron Copeland’s Appalachian Spring.”

Does this sound surprising? I imagine so, because we are just at the beginning in understanding and utilizing the therapeutic nature of music. It shouldn’t really surprise you because the servants of Saul in the latter days of his monarchy knew the power of music to heal and prescribed it for their king. “Let our lord now command your servants, who are before you, to seek out a man who is skillful in playing the lyre, and when the evil spirit from God is upon you, he will play it, and you will be well.” (1 Samuel 16:16) David is the musician of choice and he proves himself to be effective in that role. “… whenever the evil spirit from God was upon Saul, David took the lyre and played it with his hand; so Saul was refreshed, and was well, and the evil spirit departed from him. (1 Samuel 16:23)

Avram Goldstein of Standford University has studied what gives people thrills. In examining the self-reports of more than 250 people, Avram found that at the bottom of the list was the parade. And near the bottom of the list was fireworks. But ninety-six percent of the respondents indicated receiving a thrill from a musical passage. In fact, a musical passage was at the top of the list, even beating out by over twenty percentage points sexual activity. (Psychology Today, December 1985, p. 50)

Music commands much of our energy, time and money. We are never far from it. A twist of the knob or a push of the button away is the music we love. We listen to it, react to it, revel in it, sing it, and some of you even write it. And clearly, music has a special place in the life of the church. Its importance to the church is expressed in a variety of ways and is even acknowledged in a backhanded way by the fact that musical matters sometimes cause spirited debate even outright conflict within church families. We can also see the value assigned to music in the efforts of denominational families to publish new hymnals, update old ones, and encourage the writing of new hymns.

But more than simply being a powerful medium music demonstrates intent. It is a resource with many purposes. It can beam its sounds on many human problems and can open the heart to many joys. Anne Rosenfeld has called music “the beautiful disturber” and comments, “Music can move us to tears or to dance, to fight or make love. It can inspire our most exalted religious feelings and ease our anxious and lonely moments. Its pleasures are many, but it can also be alien, irksome, almost maddening.” (Psychology Today, December 1985, p. 48) Some music summons us to action. “Rise up, O Men of God” is a hymn of that genre, and often marches and overtures do that, too.

Music can also be a form of protest. The folk songs of the sixties and seventies were that and in 1916 Carl Nielsen, the Danish composer, wrote his Symphony No. 4 which was understood to be a protest against the First World War and an affirmation of human worth. It was called ‘The Inextinguishable”.

Often music soothes and restores. First Samuel is not clear about the nature of that “evil spirit” that regularly afflicted King Saul, but there is a strong implication that it was agitation of one kind or another, and the music created by David on the lyre made him feel refreshed and well again. “It is my observation,” writes Donald Houts, “that while the arts have generally been appreciated at an intellectual level, they have not been fully exploited for their therapeutic, restorative, and reconciling capacities.” (The Journal of Pastoral Care, September, 1981) Inspiration is another function of music. It can restore our vision and lift us to a greater level of appreciation and motivation.

Best of all, though, music is a channel for the grace of God. God’s presence is always a meditated one, and like the burning bush, music is yet another vessel of service in God’s disclosure to his people. Robert McAfee Brown has said this about the close association between theology and music: “There has always been a close association between theology and music … No theological statement of divine ineffability (unable to be expressed in words) can begin to compare with the wonder of mystery communicated by Beethoven’s last string quartets, particularly the Cavatina in Opus 130 and the opening fugue in Opus 131. If we wish to enter into the spirit of medieval faith, we had better not only read St. Thomas’ 24-volume Summa but also listen to (or better yet, sing ourselves) St. Francis’ “Canticle of the Sun.” (Theology in a New Key)

Many years ago a musician friend introduced me to Frederick Chopin’s C Minor Prelude. I believe that you cannot hear this piece and the words written for it and not feel enwrapped in the presence of the risen Christ. The music becomes the vehicle through which the hope and affirmation of the words come to live in the life of the person hearing them. They are basically simple words: Christ be with me. Christ within me. Christ beside me. Christ, too, in me. Christ to comfort and restore me. Christ behind me. Christ before me. Christ in quiet. Christ in danger. Christ in mouth of friend or stranger. Christ in hearts of all that love me. Christ beneath me. Christ above me.

We look for healing in medical therapies, relaxation techniques, aroma therapy, journal writing, prayer, talk therapy, diets and untold other places. We need also to rediscover what happened to King Saul when David picked up the lyre. “… David took the lyre and played it … Saul was refreshed … and was well … and the evil spirit departed from him.” (1 Samuel 16:23)

Shared by Pastor Jim Pall at the September 2016 Fall Gathering of the Pennsylvania Northeast Chapter of the American Guild of Organists. This homily was inspired by the work of Robert Noblett.

Job Opportunity: Christ United Methodist Church, Mountain Top

Director of Music Ministries sought for Christ United Methodist Church, a growing congregation in Mountain Top, PA, with a variety of musical groups and worship styles. The ideal applicant will be a worshiper of Jesus with experience leading a congregation into the presence of God, a skilled organist and pianist, competent vocalist, and effective serving in and leading teams.

Responsibilities include recruiting, accompanying, and directing choirs; leadership of a worship band; providing opportunity and development for the next generation of musicians; and expanding and enriching the church’s musical worship life with various ethnic traditions and genres including contemporary worship music.

For more information or to submit a resume and references, contact church administrator Suzanne Bowman at or 570.474.6060.

Job Opportunity: St. Eulalia’s Parish, Roaring Brook Township

St. Eulalia’s Parish is seeking an individual for the position of Music Director in the responsibilities of the Parish Music Ministry. Duties will include the planning of music for the various liturgies, scheduling of cantors, keyboard abilities to provide accompaniment for congregational and choral singing, and planning and coordinating vocal and instrumental music for all children’s Masses. Kindly respond to