Silent Film with improvised organ accompaniment

from Dr Peter Holmes, Senior Pastor, Yorkminster Park Baptist Church, Toronto

“If I am doing a good job you shouldn’t even notice the organ after about 15 minutes,” said David Briggs as he introduced Cecil B. DeMille’s 1927 silent film, King Of Kings, which he was about to accompany with 112 minutes of brilliant improvisation on Yorkminster Park’s Casavant organ. (and all that after having already played a few services that same day at St. James’ Cathedral).
Some came for the pure devotional value of the event on the first day of Holy Week, while others came to experience a silent movie for the first time, and still others to hang on the brilliance of one of the world’s great organists. Yet, almost everyone left having been deeply moved. Comments at the door from some who said they were speechless and emails from others expressing profound appreciation voiced the widespread appreciation, as did the lengthy standing ovation, and the long line of those wanting to purchase various recordings of David Briggs playing the world’s great organs.
As moving as the film and the performance truly were, it was his introductory remark that if he was doing his job well we wouldn’t notice the organ, that I can’t stop thinking about. This is great thinking to embrace as we enter Holy Week. David Briggs’ approach brought to mind the words of John the Baptist who said, “I must decrease and Christ must increase,” (John 3:30). 

Briggs’ words also had me singing the closing verse of the wonderful hymn, May the Mind of Christ My Saviour,

May his beauty rest upon me
As I seek the lost to win,
And may they forget the channel,
Seeing only Him.

Thank you David Briggs, for offering something truly beautiful on the king of instruments, to strengthen our love and devotion for the King of Kings.