St Philip’s Catholic Church, Lewisville – where I am often privileged to say Mass – has recently acquired a small but beautiful pipe organ. Previously, the only accompanying instrument used for the liturgy there was a grand piano; but the organ wonderfully transforms the liturgy and the spiritual atmosphere. It was built by Haase around 1970, and was recently renovated and installed at St Philip’s by Redman Organs of Fort Worth. You may have heard the joke: “Why is an 11-foot concert grand better than a studio upright? It makes a louder noise, when you drop it off a cliff.” Of course that is absurd and unfair – but it is a fact that the organ is the Catholic liturgical instrument par excellence (and the guitar is not even a starter in that contest). And while on the subject of the absurd and unfair: “What is the definition of a gentleman organist?” “One who can play all of the works of Tournemire from memory, but doesn’t.”
Organs are wonderful things. Wind chests, valves, pipes, electrics, all melded together for such a wonderful end! And it occurs to me that that description applies pari passu to the organ that ticks away in our chests. I thought of this several weeks ago when a surgeon implanted in my chest a “cardioverter defibrillator” so that the electrics could better control the pipes and valves in my wind chest. Now I will not need to be tuned for years to come; and a bourbon – I’m sorry, I should have said “the bourdon” — sounds just fine.