Organ Glossary of Terms

If you are like me, and a complete and utter novice on organ terms below are two links to web sites that can help you out in understanding some of the terms that will be used in answering the various questions. I do hope you will find there helpful, I have.

Why do we have to replace the organ in the first place?

The simple answer to this is that the old mechanism is simply wearing out, and we need to replace all the action which allows the organ to play. At the moment we are down to one or two working “stops” on the organ. A stop allows the organ to make a sound. When the last remaining stops fail, the organ stops. (Sorry for the tautology!)


Can’t we just lift the pipes, “burn everything underneath”, replace that, and drop the pipes back down?

Excellent question. In a perfect world, where the organ was what we needed in the first place yes. However, there is a complication, and it goes back to the original construction of the organ. Please bear with me, this may get complicated.

Rendall was the original contractor to install an organ into St. Johns. During the construction Rendall was unable to complete the project. The Wardens contracted Mr Lego to complete the project. Interestingly Rendall was an amateur, and Leggo a professional, Leggo completed the instrument, solved some of Rendalls shortcomings and had to replace some of the pipework which means there are two slightly mismatched sets of pipes. When I talked about this to the questioner, they responded, “So it’s a bit like a Stradivarius violin being played alongside a homemade bandage violin?” My response, was along the lines of “yes, but don’t assume that either Rendall or Leggo produced a Stradivarius!!”

Coupled with this, and I checked this out with Bertie Lloyd before her death, as she was around when it was installed, the church only went back about 8-10 pews. This means that when the organ was matched to the space of the church it was much smaller. (Wasn’t done properly in any case) Since then there have not been any really successful attempts to match the organ to the church space, and this needs to be overcome as well. It is unlikely given the above this can be achieved with the current pipes. There have been attempts, like in the 70’s when the wind pressure was increased, but that made things worse making the pipes off pitch and overblowing.

The upshot of this, is simply this, we can’t just lift the pipes, burn everything underneath and drop the pipes down on a new mechanism. We need pipes that do the job we want, and produce a consistent sound, that is why we are going with the full replacement.


Surely, we are only doing this because Brett is not the ordinary calibre of Musical Director we have had in the past? What if we don’t have another one as good as Brett?

 This is another excellent question, actually it is two, asked by the same person. My response takes a slightly different tack to the premise of the question, and that is, after Brett we won’t have as good. Brett may agree, but I don’t. My response is, “Why wouldn’t we want to have an instrument of such quality that we attracted people of Brett’s quality once he goes?” It is true Brett will not be around forever, but I want to say, “So what?” Let’s use Brett’s skills and talents now, get ourselves a good instrument, not a great one, a good one that will do all things we want it to do, and then some, and then I suspect when people find out Brett is leaving, whenever that is, we will not really have to advertise because people will come seeking us out. This will be because they will desire to play the organ in our church and lead the choirs. It is very much in the vein of 1Corinthins where Paul reminds the church that one-person plants, another waters, and God gives the growth. Graeme and Enid Anderson planted new seeds, and watered what had happened before, Jane did the same and Brett continues. However, God is always the one causing the growth. Thus, the second question becomes void. It is up to the Wardens ultimately to make sure we get a good replacement for Brett when the time comes, and not settle for second best.