The Pipe Organ at St. Cecelia Church

St. Cecelia’s pipe organ stands as a visible symbol of the love of sacred music and generosity of hundreds of devoted parishioners– both past and present.

The original pipe organ and two consoles were installed circa 1930. A new console and the addition of fifteen ranks were installed in 1953 with thirteen more ranks added in 1974. The current pipe organ, which still houses hundreds of the original pipes, includes forty-eight ranks– nearly 3,000 pipes. The three manuals (keyboards) and pedal board console contains seventy-six stops with electro-mechanical and electro-pneumatic action controlling the four divisions of the instrument. Its solid state switching system works with computer-like speed and operates silently with no moving parts. The console shell is constructed of solid oak with the keyboards and pedals crafted of maple and rosewood.

St. Cecelia’s pipe organ is capable of producing sounds from the prayerfully delicate Flute Dolce, to the most majestically robust Festival Trumpet. The 2,777 pipes in the instrument were designed to produce very specific “sound colors” based on their size and composition. The pipes contain wood, brass, treated copper, or a tin alloy.

The Tubular Chimes and Zimbelstern (“cymbal star” – a rotating five-bell mechanism) provide pleasing sound decoration for special occasions. St. Cecelia’s organ utilizes MIDI (Musical Instruments Digital Interface) via microprocessor technology. This allows the organist to concurrently control electronic keyboards, sequencers, or a computer MIDI program from the organ console.

The current organ console, pipe additions and solid-state multiplex switching system was delivered on May 14, 1995, and installation was completed on June 14, 1995. The remainder of the summer months was spent on voicing and tonal finishing– matching the acoustics of the church building.

With proper care and occasional maintenance, the pipe organ at St. Cecelia Church will accompany its parishioners in sung prayer for many years to come.

A rank is a row of pipes with the same kind of sound. For example, all the pipes for a Rohrflöte (one kind of flute sound) are in the same row. Organs are often described by the number of ranks they have. A forty-seven rank instrument is a fairly large size while a fifteen rank instrument is small. Practice organs can have anywhere from 3 to 9 ranks.

The knobs on the organ console are used to turn a type of sound on or off (a rank of pipes, for example.) It usually has one pipe per note, although some kinds of sounds use several pipes for one note on the keyboard. Many stops on an organ result in many possibilities for tonal color and volume. There are several families, or groups, of sounds: Reeds, Principals, Flutes, and Strings.

The pipes are grouped into several separate sections called divisions. Each one has a name and is controlled through its own manual or the pedal board. There are several manual divisions: Great, Swell, and Choir or Positive, and the Pedal division.