Could we be accused of exaggeration if we used Mozart’s famous description of the organ – “The King of Instruments” – to describe our instrument in St. Saviour’s? After all, it is quite modest in size.
The organ in St. George’s Church, Stockport, for example, has 3 keyboards (manuals) plus pedals and 52 different tone colours (stops). But even that is small compared to the majestic instrument in Liverpool’s Anglican Cathedral. The largest in the UK, it has 5 manuals plus pedals, 152 stops and 10,268 pipes. Truly: “the King of Instruments”.
By comparison the organ in St. Saviour’s has just 2 manuals plus pedals and only 9 stops. Yet it is simply a delight to play each Sunday. Surprisingly versatile despite its compact nature, I relish the opportunity of sitting down at its console to set, through music, the atmosphere before our worship, leading us all in song during our service to the glory of God and then sending us on our way with a spring in our step. The care that has been taken by the builders over the exquisite sound and blend of the organ in St. Saviour’s means that, in the years I’ve been organist, I’ve never tired of playing and listening to the little gem that resides in our organ loft.
One would think the instrument had been designed especially for the building. Yet the organ we have now was never intended for St. Saviour’s. By the time the present church building began to be used for worship in 1918, funds were depleted. The original plans for a window at the east end of the church above the chancel were shelved and there was no money left to commission an organ. A short-term solution was found: the church would rent an instrument from Jardine’s, the Manchester-based organ builders. In fact, the church rented the organ from the company for so many years that, in the end, an amicable arrangement saw the organ remain in the church; to all intents and purposes, that rented organ is the one we still hear today.
David Carlston Williams
Organist, St. Saviour’s Parish Church