I used to think that the abundance of chattter during prelude was limited to Mormon congregations. It only took a few clicks on the internet to find out that we’re not alone! Here’s a sample of how our organist friends of other faiths feel about their members talking during prelude:
When someone has spent time preparing for the service, s/he would like the music to be heard. For me, it’s a matter of feeling that I have contributed to worship. If the music is not heard, then why include it? Why not just sight-read? Why show up?—Gretchen Saathoff
Worship happens all the time. The prelude and postlude are simply transition pieces from indivual worship to corporate worship and back. God likes to see the Children of God getting along…Those who want to visit can, but they should keep the volume down so that those who want to listen to the music can do so; those who want to listen to the music shouldn’t treat the chatterers like second-class citizens.—The Organ Forum
I’m not telling people that they shouldn’t do preludes and postludes… If you want to spend endless hours practicing music that people are not even listening to…then fine. What I’m saying is that I’d rather make better use of my time.—Jeffrey Coggins
And here’s a fun cartoon from the Music Department of the Lutheran Church of Honolulu:
But, my favorite is this comment found on MusicaSacra Forum:
Don’t play for people…play only for God…always…the people just happen to be there because they are only there for him too. Any “crossover” is then just a blessing in disguise. Francis
My point of view? I think it would be great to know that people are actually listening to my prelude music. But I think the point of prelude is to invite the Spirit of God and help prepare our hearts for meaningful worship. Since music is felt as much as it is heard, I believe I can fulfill the purpose of prelude whether the congregation is consciously aware of my music or not.