The First Organist in the Colonies

Organs, organ music, and organists are documented as early as 1703 in the British colonies. In 1694 Johannes Kelpius arrived in Philadelphia with a group of German Pietist followers, later to be known as the Hermits or Mystics of Wissahickon. They had great knowledge of and fondness for music. On November 24, 1703 an ordination service in the congregation of the Mystics of Wissahickon took place in the Gloria Dei Church of Philadelphia. The service “opened with a voluntary on the little organ in gallery by Jonas the organist.” Jonas, possibly Jonas Auren, is the first documented player of the organ in the fledgling colonies. No further mention of Jonas, the voluntary, or the organ is made. With this the long history of American organists, organ music and organs is begun.

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Dr. Jeannine Jordan, concert organist, creator and performer of From Sea to Shining Sea


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