Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Organ Solos in Advent

A (somewhat early) Happy Advent to you.

I was going through some organ repertoire this week in preparation for a number of Advent services for which I'm playing. There seems to be little organ repertoire for Advent for which I can get truly excited, save for the great works of J.S. Bach, especially Wachet auf and the several versions of Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland.

Why is this so? Perhaps--perhaps--it is because the organ has not been used in solo fashion, if at all, during Advent, save for the past several decades, and for the past several centuries in the Protestant denominations. Musicam sacram specifically mentions Advent as a time during the year when the organ cannot be played solo. My understanding, however, is that the current Ceremoniale Episcoporum does allow for the use of organ solos.

However, rubrics aside, which is more fitting, to have organ solos during Advent or not? Bach is wonderful, but he wrote for another tradition, and his works could nonetheless be adopted for the eschatological weeks before Advent. It seems to me that the penitential character of Advent has been lost, and that it is sorely needed again. Could a sobering up of the music help this along?

What say you, friends?