There are many half truths in Mr. Clarke's letter under the title of Psalterium et Cithara with one or two statements which are not even half true.
The experience of some years has shown that there is an almost mathematical relationship between the quality (not necessarily the quantity) of the organ accompaniments and the congregation's response. It is certainly never necessary or desirable to overpower but to support firmly is essential; how loud is loud? Harpischords arc not permitted instruments, and even if they were they would not by their very nature be suitable for congregational accompaniment. It is possible too that the quality of their tone would be found to be more obtrusive than that of the organ.
The organs intrusive tone is no 'modern disease'. Does Mr. Clarke know the Organ Masses and Offertory pieces of such composers
as Couperin? Were they to be played today in their original context he might have some cause for his strictures.
The organ a recent arrival? It preceded the harpsichord as we know it by some fifteen hundred Years being quite highly developed in Roman times and by the eighth century it was being used in Europe liturgically. It is interesting to note that from contemporary accounts these early instruments could outclass any of the products of this century in sheer brute force.
Lastly. a Solemn High Mass gains in solemnity and dignity from the proper use of the organ. The complete silence which accompanies the Consecration is to many ears more effective by reason of the fact that it follows the joyful singing (and playing) of the Sanctus. Where extended silence is wanted there is always Low Mass.
James 1,000. Muswell Hill, N.10.