A LETTER TO THE REV. DOCTOR WHITE, RECTOR OF CHRIST CHURCH AND ST. PETER'S ON THE CONDUCT OF A CHURCH ORGAN. Frances Hopkinson

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A LETTER TO THE REV. DOCTOR WHITE, RECTOR OF CHRIST CHURCH AND ST. PETER'S ON THE CONDUCT OF A CHURCH ORGAN. Frances Hopkinson

I AM one of those who take great delight in sacred music, and think, with royal David, that heart, voice, and instrument should unite in adoration of the great Supreme.

A soul truly touched with love and gratitude, or under the influence of penitential sorrow, will unavoidably break forth in expressions suited to its feelings. In order that these emanations of the mind may be conducted with uniformity and a becoming propriety, our church hath adopted into her liturgy, the book of psalms, commonly called David's Psalms, which contain a great variety of addresses to the Deity, adapted to almost every state and temperature of a devout heart, and expressed in terms always proper, and often sublime.

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Brian Ebie:  On The Conduct of a Church Organ: Francis Hopkinson and Christ Church Philadelphia

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Brian Ebie: On The Conduct of a Church Organ: Francis Hopkinson and Christ Church Philadelphia

Francis Hopkinson, delegate to the Continental Congress, and signer of the Declaration of Independence, was also a writer of poetry, satirical works, and music. First Graduate of the College of Philadelphia, he had great experience as a writer in law offices and in all matters political--especially as they related to the Colonies' relationship with England. He was appointed as a federal judge by George Washington in 1790, subsequent to serving as a Judge of the Admiralty.  He also served as organist of Christ Church for an unknown tenure.

Something not as commonly known about Francis Hopkinson, and perhaps of interest to organists, was his interest in the comportment of the church organist and how the organ should be appropriately used in the church worship service (of the Colonial Episcopal church, at least). In his "A LETTER TO THE REV. DOCTOR WHITE, RECTOR OF CHRIST CHURCH AND ST. PETER'S ON THE CONDUCT OF A CHURCH ORGAN", Hopkinson delves into the appropriate use of the organ by making six rules, covering everything from the prelude to the postlude and the hymns in between.  Interestingly, however, the majority of his comments seem to be directed toward the organist and how he uses the instrument.

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Brian Ebie Plays "Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee" arranged by Diane Bish

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Brian Ebie Plays "Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee" arranged by Diane Bish

Organist and composer Diane Bishhas been one of the greatest advocates of the pipe organ in recent history.  Not since the time of the so-called golden age of organ building and the “superstars” like Virgil Fox and E. Power Biggs has anyone had more success in bringing the organ to large audiences.  Through her development and broadcast of the weekly “The Joy of Music” television series, Diane shared with the world a sort of National Geographic of the pipe organ—taking us to see and hear pipe organs places we will probably never visit. 

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Brian Ebie and Laura Ebie Flute and Organ Recital at Trinity Lutheran Church, Kent, Ohio on March 22, 2015

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Brian Ebie and Laura Ebie Flute and Organ Recital at Trinity Lutheran Church, Kent, Ohio on March 22, 2015

Often, my wife and I like to make recordings on the pipe organs I maintain. Even though we have a home organ, you just can't duplicate the awesome ring andreverb in a large vaulted room with wooded pews - not for all the sound recording software in the world! Our recent session at Kent Trinity Lutheran was great. As we wrapped up for the night, their Organist joked that we 'owed her big time!' So, in part, in exchange for having the sanctuary available to us, we put together a small little program for a spring Sunday afternoon concert for the community. Hope you can join us!

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