Having secured a good organ and talented organists, the College had to ensure that the music played on it was befitting such a prestigious and acoustically difficult setting as King’s College Chapel. Responsibility for this lay with the Organists, who often marked special occasions, joyous or solemn, with music to suit the mood. They also permitted others to play the organ, when appropriate. They celebrated and memorialised, though their choice of harmonies, always choosing the right note. They saw the organ as an instrument which could be used for more secular amusement, as well as religious observation, introducing recitals.
They also recognised when silence was more appropriate. When a Fellow or Provost died, the organ was not to be played until their funeral had taken place, as noted in a book of instructions and notes on the choir, started by John Pratt and continued by William Amps, between 1799-1855.
The service of dedication of the College’s First World War Memorial, which included poems by Rupert Brooke, took place on 2nd November 1921. The Organist set the tone for the occasion. A note by ‘Daddy’ Mann at the front of the organist’s order of service reads:
A quarter of an hour before the
Service the organist plays an
appropriate piece (e.g. Bach’s
Prelude on the chorale “Schmücke
dich”) lasting about 7 minutes.
One minute before the service the
organist improvises in G minor
finishing when the verger pulls
the pendulum in the
chord of G minor.