New Organ at Historic St. Mary’s

05-12-2024Pastor's LetterVery Rev. Richard C. Wilson, VF, Pastor

Dear Friends in Christ,

Music is integral to the fulness of Catholic worship. And for centuries, the Church has upheld the organ as the principal musical accompaniment. Because of the stationary character of organs, their size, and their expense, the development of the organ, its use, and its repertory have been intimately intwined with worship and liturgy of the Church.

Our pipe organ at Historic St. Mary’s was in bad need of restoration. Accordingly, a project was initiated to renovate the existing pipe organ. A firm was selected, but the COVID interruption and financial issues at the company prevented the possibility of repairing the old pipe organ. Also, waiting lists for a quality organ restoration firm were about two-three years. Therefore, it was decided to purchase an electronic digital organ. The parish again decided to go with the Allen Organ Company, the foremost electronic organ builder.

Under the guidance of our parish musician, Frank Deese, we chose a French terraced console. The organ stops are organized in terraces to the side of the keyboards rather than in a single block-like formation. The principal benefit is a shorter profile of the console, allowing the organist to see over the console.

These terraces organize the stops by keyboard. The top terrace contains the stops for the top keyboard, the middle terrace for the lower keyboard, and the third terrace for the pedalboard. Additionally, the stops are grouped linearly in families. From left to right these families are the strings, the flue, the mixtures, and the reeds. This also is easy to use because one can pull out a family of stops with one hand more easily.

This newer digital organ comes with the advancement of technology, even in the short time between the purchase of the Allen organ at new St. Mary’s. There are 128 memories in the new organ at Historic St. Mary’s compared to 18 in the organ in the new church. This gives the ability to set up the organ for multiple services and multiple organists.

The sounds that a digital organ makes are sound samples that are taken from actual, existing pipe organs. With the advancement of technology, the amount of information stored for each note of each stop has greatly increased, giving a more realistic sound. Additionally, the new organ has sound suites available, giving the organist different historical sound and regional samples, such as: French romantic, German baroque, American classic, among others. This gives greater versatility to the organ.

Our new organ at Historic St. Mary’s was purchased from funds donated for the Bicentennial Capital Campaign. Thanks so much to all who gave so very generously to make this new organ a reality for our parish!

All the best…in Christ, Father Wilson