Volume 5 Number 2
“The simplification of the east end, which has left nothing but table, pulpit, and organ, has also contributed to a deeper sense of reverence in the chapel,” Harris says. “There is much less architectural and liturgical distraction now so that one can focus on the service with greater ease. I think the founders and early fathers of the Seminary would be very happy indeed!”
One of those early fathers, Professor Charles Hodge, gave a “discourse” at the first rededication of Miller Chapel in 1874. He chose as his topic preaching. “Two things are included in preaching,” Hodge said. “First, the communication to be made is of the nature of the message. The preacher is a herald, and the office of a herald is to proclaim what he is commanded to announce. And so …the preacher is the messenger of God.
“The second idea included in preaching is that it is a method of oral instruction. It hath pleased God to make the proclamation of the gospel by the living teacher the great means of salvation. Other methods of instruction are important; this is indispensable. God has so made us that the human voice is the most effective instrument for conviction and persuasion. Therefore it is that God has adopted it as his great instrument in saving [men].”
Following in Hodge’s footsteps, many of the future teachers and preachers of the church will discover their calling through the pulpit and pews of Miller Chapel.
But not through word alone. Also through music.
No two people are happier about its presence than the man whose gift made it possible, Joe R. Engle of New York City, and the man who will play it, the Seminary’s director of music and organist, Martin Tel.
Tel gives great credit to Fritts. “Paul did the work of a master organ builder, and now the organ takes on a life of its own; it sighs with sounds deeper than words.” He explains that a tracker organ is a mechanical-action organ, where each key is attached to a thin strip of wood that links the keyboard to the pipes. Through a complex series of connections, a tracker opens a valve that lets air into a chamber beneath a pipe.
“A tracker organ is symbolic of simplicity,” Tel says, “though it is not a simple organ. The way the organ works is in a way analogous to the movement of the Holy Spirit. If you open yourself to this instrument, it will speak to you, move you.”
Tel’s colleague and world-renowned organist Joan Lippincott, who recently retired as the organist at the Princeton University chapel, played the inaugural recital on the Engle Organ at a colloquium on the place of the organ in Christian worship in early February. She was moved to tears when the organ was physically moved into the chapel, pipe by pipe, in the fall. “This is an amazing day,” she said. “I think it’s symbolic of a new life, a new presence at the Seminary. It will be a leader in worship that moves people. My life has been about music and worship, and I’ve been waiting for such a moment as this when such a great instrument would arrive in Princeton.”
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