“Among all other instruments which are suitable for divine worship, the organ is ‘accorded pride of place’ (1) because of its capacity to sustain the singing of a large gathered assembly, due to both its size and its ability to give ‘resonance to the fullness of human sentiments, from joy to sadness, from praise to lamentation’” (2).
“In addition to its ability to lead and sustain congregational singing, the sound of the pipe organ is most suited for solo playing of sacred music in the Liturgy at appropriate moments. Pipe organs also play an important evangelical role in the Church’s outreach to the wider community in sacred concerts, music series, and other musical and cultural programs” (3).
At St. Augustine, we are blessed with magnificent pipe organ in the balcony of the church. The organ was originally built in 1896 by the Henry Pilcher’s Sons Company of Louisville, Kentucky. The original organ was hand pumped and had mechanical tracker action. In 1939, the Henry Pilcher’s Sons Company came back to St. Augustine to modernize, enlarge, and electrify the action of the instrument. Between 1968 and 1972, the instrument was once again enlarged and altered, this time by the H.W. Muller & Sons Organ Company of Toledo, Ohio. Pipes were added and exchanged in an attempt to ‘lighten’ the sound with more brilliant and edgy ranks. Though the mechanics that control the instrument where not changed with the rebuild, a new console was built and installed in the balcony. The organ has two manuals and pedals, with 37 ranks of pipes and 2,287 pipes.
As of 2019, a contract was signed with Renolds Associates, Inc. of Marion, Indiana to complete the badly needed restoration and overhaul of the organ. Our organ will be removed from the church in early 2020; the mechanics will be newly built, and the pipes will be cleaned. A new console will be built for the organist to control the functions of the organ, as the current console has been worn out after many years of hard use. A gleaming facade of speaking pipes will be erected to cover the front of the organ, replacing the 1951 screen currently in front of the instrument. The organ restoration is expected to conclude in December, 2020. Our goal is to return the organs to the rich, darker sounds of the Pilcher era with a symphonic flair that Reynolds Associates likes to give to their instruments. The new organ has been designed to accompany our 40 voice Men’s Choir, 65 voice Mixed Choir, and our resident Brass Quintet. To accomplish this end, there is 9 ranks of strings in the manual divisions, three different 8’ Diapasons on the Great, complete Diapason choruses on each manual, and four 32’ options in the Pedal—to name a few!
- GIRM. No. 393.
- Sing to the Lord: Music in Divine Worship, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. No. 87.
- Sing to the Lord: Music in Divine Worship, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. No. 88.