Phase II Pipe Organ
Restoring Our Pipe Organ
Come, thou Fount of every blessing,
tune my heart to sing thy grace;
streams of mercy, never ceasing,
call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet, sung by flaming tongues above.
I’m fixed upon it, mount of thy redeeming love.1
This hymn sung with meaning and gusto by Foundry members illustrates the importance of music in our worship of God. Foundry’s organ leads us in lifting our voices high as we affirm God’s grace.
History of the Foundry Pipe Organ
The history of Foundry’s Casavant organ, with its 3,364 pipes and 60 ranks, sets the scene for decisions about restoration, In a June 1986 feature of The American Organist, the organ was lauded for its versatility:
It is an organ that is orchestral in feeling but possessed of great clarity and definition. Combining 18th and 19th century organ concepts, it comes out of French tastes. It speaks evenly and robustly. The reeds are nasal and sassy; the mixtures are big and resonant; the flutes and strings are soft but not cloying. . . .The organ is French in inspiration but sounds wonderful in Bach and contemporary music from England and from this country. (p. 43)
Just prior to this article, Foundry’s organ had been replaced following many years of what Foundry leaders called “band-aid work.” According to a church report at the time, the new organ yielded improvements in “congregational singing, choral accompaniment, and playing of organ repertoire.”2
Although organ maintenance has been steady over the years, inevitable problems have ensued. Although fixed many times, the wind chest, the heart of the organ, continues to develop cracks. Like the heart in human bodies pumps blood necessary for life, wind is pushed by the wind chest through pipes for sound. With cracks in the wind chest, wind blows through a crack on its own. Pipes don’t function properly.
Magnets seal air from entering a pipe until signaled by knobs and pedals controlled by the organist. The way of sending information to pipes has advanced in the 30 years since Foundry’s organ repair. The organ has only 12 memory levels, whereas most new organs have 200. Foundry’s organ needs a change in its fiber-optic infrastructure.
The manual part of the organ needs to be repaired, More buttons and stops are needed for more hospitable sound. The organ needs, according to Director of Music Stanley Thurston, “revoicing of the pipes.”
And Foundry needs more pipes. With no space for additional pipes in the current location, a rank of pipes can be integrated in the balcony by the stained glass windows with no impact on seating. This extension can add more hospitable sounds, including antiphonal ones.
To support the organ, Foundry’s sanctuary needs consistent temperatures. In the winter heat dries the air so that change in humidity negatively affects the wind chest. Replacement of air handlers will obviate the shift in temperatures that negatively affect the organ’s performance.
Expanded Radical Hospitality
Different music stimulates different people to connect to others and to God. With essential repairs to the organ, Foundry will be able to, as Stanley Thurston phrases it, “expand the palette” of music at Foundry. The restored organ will enable more variety, especially of contemporary music. It will enable new ways of worshiping through music.
Currently Foundry members sometimes make suggestions of music for worship services. A fully functioning organ will enable hospitable responses to suggestions of different kinds of music presented different ways. It will also make Foundry more hospitable to visiting organists at Foundry to play in weddings and special events.
With a repaired and renovated organ, Foundry congregants will be able to welcome everyone and to joyfully sing words of praise to God:
O for a thousand tongues to sing,
My great Redeemer’s praise,
The glories of my God and King,
The triumphs of God’s grace.3
1 Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing, The United Methodist Hymnal, p. 400.
2 Sanctuary Renovation: Planning for the Future. 1984, p. 4.
3 O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing, The United Methodist Hymnal, p. 57.