When Choir Loft-Pulpit Relations Go South

WHEN CHOIR LOFT–PULPIT RELATIONS GO SOUTH

The following is copyright 2010, by the American Guild of Organists.
Reproduced by permission of The American Organist Magazine.

ORGANIST SUED FOR SLANDER
Remarks in the sermon at High Mass on New Year’s Day by the Rev. Bartholomew Kvitek of St. Michael the Archangel Church in Chicago led to a suit by Thomas J. Griglak, his former organist, for $20,000. He charges slander. Last May the pastor asked the organist to resign. The date set was January 1. Griglak attended services New Year’s Day and says he was called “a liar, a swindler, and a drunkard” from the pulpit.

W.H. DONLEY RESIGNS SEATTLE POSITION WHEN GIVEN ALTERNATIVE
Professor W.H. Donley has resigned as the result of a peculiar difficulty. The pastor and others in the First Methodist Church of Seattle took offense because Mr. Donley played the new organ at the Colonial Theater. The trustees of the church gave Mr. Donley the alternative of abandoning the theater work or retiring from the church position. He resigned. The Rev. A.W. Leonard, who objected to Mr. Donley’s playing at the Colonial, said he could not countenance a combination between the motion picture theater and the church. The organist’s answer was that he did not play at the theater on Sundays and that he did not play at all for the “movies,” another organist doing this work.

The Diapason (Oct. 1914), p. 2.

MINISTER PUT PADLOCK ON ORGAN

BINGHAMTON, N.Y., June 17, 1901.—There is an interesting state of affairs at the First Methodist Church in Chenango Forks. The minister had his horse shod at the shop of a blacksmith who was not a member of the church. A rival blacksmith, who was a church member and an intimate friend of the organist’s mother, complained, and the organist refused to play. The choir took the part of the organist, and there was no music at the service yesterday. Then the minister put a padlock on the organ, and when some of the choir attempted to make it unpleasant for him, the minister barred them from the church.

The Music Trades (June 29, 1901). Quoted in The Boston Organ Club Newsletter (July/August 1976), p. 10.

CHOIR AND ORGANIST STILL ON STRIKE

MERRICK, L.I., July 28.—There was an absence of music at the Church of the Redeemer again today. Otherwise the services were as usual. The Rev. J.W. Barker, the rector, said he expected by next Sunday to have a new choir and organist. He is still willing to take back Miss Miller, the organist, and the singers who left two weeks ago, if they wish to return. Miss Miller left because the rector objected to “The Holy City” being sung by Alfred Angus, a friend of hers. The minister says his objection was that it was too long for a hot Sunday, and he had a long sermon prepared.

The New York Times (July 29, 1901), p. 7.

FREEPORT MINISTER RESIGNS

FREEPORT, L.I., August 10.—The trouble in the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer, here, is ended, and Miss Elizabeth Miller, the organist, with the choir girls are congratulating themselves on their victory. It was announced today that the Rev. J.W. Barker, rector of the church, had resigned. He will preach his farewell sermon tomorrow. Mr. Barker’s radical views on certain questions outside of the church led to a division in sentiment among the members concerning the preacher, and when he refused last month to permit a Brooklyn singer to appear at Sunday morning’s service with “The Holy City” as a solo, the crisis was reached. Miss Miller and the choir girls refused to attend, and the congregation upheld them.

The New York Times (August 11, 1901), p. 16.

4 comments

  1. Love the Church of the Holy Redeemer stories, especially the multiple levels of explanation.

    What really led to Mr. Barker’s downfall:

    1. Mr. Barker’s radical views on certain questions outside of the church

    2.the rector objected to “The Holy City” being sung by Alfred Angus,

    3. and he had a long sermon prepared

    4. a division in sentiment among the members concerning the preacher

    5.the organist, with the choir girls are congratulating themselves on their victory.

    Good example of social reality.

  2. Rita/Ahthony you must get a collection of similar anecdotes after the Moroney-Ward-Pell Missal comes into official use. All the “disordered affections” and 85 word sentences and “look I keep telling you people, ‘many’ means ‘all’ … well, nearly all” and “Constrain them mercifully, O Lord, we pray, that we “might, to the praise of your manifold wisdom, be manifest as your Church” stories should make fun postings!

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