Browsing Pastor's Corner

Organ Restoration

Oct 23, 2018

Did you know Our Lady of The Assumption was originally built with a pipe organ, and must have looked beautiful framing the rose window over the choir loft?

As part of our ongoing process of enhancing our liturgy and following the directives of the USCCB document “Sing to the Lord,” and of the Diocesan Synod mandate for “better, more engaging and instructive liturgy and worship”, we have decided to resurrect a plan already on the table going back quite a few years to re-install the pipe organ.

The USCCB document “Sing to the Lord,” states: “God has bestowed upon his people the gift of song. God dwells within each human person, in the place where music takes its source. Indeed, God, the giver of song, is present whenever his people sing his praises.”

The liturgy is inherently linked to beauty. In Jesus we contemplate beauty and splendor at their source. This is the concrete way in which the truth of God’s love in Christ encounters us, attracts us and delights us, enabling us to emerge from ourselves and drawing us towards our true vocation, which is love. Beauty, then, is not mere decoration, but rather an essential element of the liturgical action, since it is an attribute of God himself and his revelation.

The beauty of liturgy consists in expressing what stands behind the veil of the sacraments especially the Holy Eucharist, the eternal realities towards which we strive. That is, Liturgy should lift us in mind and heart beyond this world, to that heavenly realm which is yet to arrive in its fullness at the end of time, for which we must prepare, but in some way is already here.

Most of our lives are immersed in the secular and temporal, the ‘form of this world’ which is passing away, and we must through Liturgy, and most of all the Holy Mass, keep our “minds fixed on things above”. Enhancing the quality of the Liturgy enables this being lifted up and out of ourselves into the higher realms of Heaven in and through God’s Spirit. 

Living under the constant strain and “oppression” of life in this world, for that one hour a week, our hearts, minds and souls crave that comfort, that peace, that joy, that eternal time experience that brings to us the strength and hope to move forward into the next week, bringing more Heaven into our hearts and into this world in and through our weekly Liturgical experiences.

Of all the sounds of which human beings, created in the image and likeness of God, are capable, voice is the most privileged and fundamental. Is not Christ referred to as the WORD of God, and how much is the power of that word enhanced when put to extraordinary sound and music?  When God “spoke” the universe into existence, He created the Angelic Choirs first so that what followed was a wonderfully harmonic symphony of creative sound and beauty that gave life and breath to the entire universe and eventually all of us.

Musical instruments in the Liturgy are best understood as an extension of and support to the primary liturgical instrument, which is the human voice. The musical tradition of the universal Church is a treasure of inestimable value, greater even than that of any other art.

The only instrument permitted by name at the Vatican Council is the pipe organ which is to be held in high esteem, for it is the traditional musical instrument which adds a wonderful splendor to the Church’s ceremonies and powerfully lifts up man’s mind to God and to higher things.

Among the primary concerns of improving the capabilities of our organ is to inspire full, active and conscious participation of the faithful through song. This aspect is further explained in the same document: “Among all other instruments which are suitable for the divine worship, the organ is “accorded pride of place.” Because of its capacity to sustain the singing of a large gathered assembly, due to both its size and ability to give “resonance to the fullness of human sentiments, from joy to sadness, from praise to lamentation.” Likewise, “the manifold possibilities of the organ in some way remind us of the immensity and magnificence of God.”

It is our hope that this project will attract more membership in the choir, and will allow us to hold concerts and events centered around the unique capabilities of the pipe organ.

With its rich resources, the organ helps explain sacred mysteries, reveals divine grace, and stirs our deepest emotions. The unleashing of the full spectrum of an organ's power can move us to tears, can console our grief, and can enhance our joy. It has been said that no other form of music acts so powerfully as an instrument of both meditation and celebration.

This is also an opportunity to memorialize loved ones, an opportunity that will be presented in more detail in the coming weeks as well as a plan to “officially” bless and present the restored Organ by way of a prepared ceremony. We are so blessed to have a beautiful Church with an immensely beautiful and invested congregation, it is our hope the quality of that already incredible beauty will be even more enhanced and celebrated.

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