Organs Were “Purely Secular” Instruments Until The 10th Century

Known from the time of classical antiquity, the organ remained a purely secular instrument until the 10th cent., when it began to appear in major churches, such as Glastonbury and Winchester. What liturgical part, if any, it played remains largely unknown until c. 1400, when the alternating of organ verses with plainsong or polyphony sung by the choir became an established custom in both the Mass and Office.

F. L. Cross and Elizabeth A. Livingstone, eds., The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005), s.v., organs.

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