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Organ in Hillsdale Col­lege’s Christ Chapel | Hillsdale College

I’m tired of doing the chapel dance. 

It’s my near-daily routine of walking into Christ Chapel, hearing the blaring organ, and walking right back out. 

The beau­tiful chapel was built to give our campus a spir­itual center, a place for stu­dents to gather and pray. Instead, the chapel has become the nation’s largest rehearsal studio.

Stu­dents play the organ every day at unpre­dictable times. Melodies bellow throughout the building, dis­rupting all who come to enjoy the quiet. And while the talent is excep­tional and music lovely, it inter­feres with what the main goal of Christ Chapel ought to be: giving stu­dents a quiet space for spir­itual reflection.

The college must limit and post the hours organ playing is allowed, leaving the majority of the day for quiet reflection. 

As it stands, most of the day is available for stu­dents to play, except for a few scat­tered, incon­ve­nient “quiet” hours: Monday-Friday from 6 to 8 a.m., noon to 1 p.m., and 8 p.m. to 10:15 p.m.

The college’s website boasts that “the chapel is open to stu­dents for per­sonal devotion.” It promises these hours: Monday through Sat­urday from 6 a.m. to 10:15 p.m., and Sunday from noon to 10:15 p.m.

The reality is that we get less than six of those 16 hours for silence.

But it’s not just stu­dents prac­ticing. The music department holds organ lessons in Christ Chapel.

Approx­i­mately 13 hours of instruction take place in the chapel weekly, according to the music department. Sev­enteen stu­dents take organ lessons, and each needs at least an hour a week to practice, he added. 

Given that three organs are available in Howard Music Hall, it seems unnec­essary to hold lessons in the student body’s des­ig­nated spot for prayer. 

The chapel should be shared among all stu­dents. The dis­pro­por­tionate and unpre­dictable time given to the few who play the organ is deterring the chapel from pro­viding its full spir­itual impact to the school. 

The admin­is­tration and music pro­fessors should reign in the hours for organ playing and promise to keep most of the day open for stu­dents’ quiet time.