Friday, June 23, 2017

Heavenly Pipes

PHOTOGRAPHER'S JOURNAL: A revivalist spirit came to Litchfield along with its first pipe organ during the pastorate of its third minister, Daniel Huntington, between 1798 and 1809. Huntington, like Beecher who would follow him, was a student of Timothy Dwight. The organ was brought by ship from New York City to New Haven, and carried in three ox carts up over the hills to the Litchfield Green where the previous church then stood.  It was a sign of the town’s new wealth and prestige.

It was still there behind Beecher’s pulpit and must have been in the ears of Beecher’s daughter, Harriet, though unmentioned, when she wrote, 

“,,,the glory of our meeting house was its singers seat, that empyrean of those who rejoiced in the mysterious art of fa-sol-la-ing. There they sat in the gallery that lines three sides of the house, treble, counter, tenor and base, each with its appropriate leader and supporters. They were generally seated the bloom of our young people, sparkling, modest and blushing girls on one side, with their ribbons and finery, making the place as blooming and lively as a flower garden, and fiery, forward confident young men on the other.”

In 1856 Dr. Leonard Wolsey Bacon became the ninth minister of the congregation. By then the new and current church had been built, and the organ had been carted across the street and installed behind the high pulpit in the new meeting house. Bacon was “a vigorous preacher,” and “a liberal - one of the first to accept the new revolutionary theories of Darwin.” He was reputed to have been a man of strong passions who spoke his mind and made strong friends and, perhaps, too many enemies in his four years in Litchfield. 

Music was one of his passions, and the old organ must have been wheezing in his ear, as one of his first efforts was raising funds to replace it. When the new organ arrived he had both organ and choir moved from behind the pulpit to a gallery at the rear of the meeting house where he might better enjoy them, and where its invisibility may have made it more etherial. Pastor Bacon also re-tuned congregants voices to a new hymnal, and later in life he published a book of the hymns of Luther. Before he left Litchfield, he also purchased land on which to build a church horse shed so members might have their horses properly sheltered during the day-long sermons; a minister’s concerns had to be both spiritual and practical.

The current organ was installed in 1971 by the Reuter Organ Company of Lawrence, KS. The organist tells me it is a two-manual, 21 rank (21 timbres) organ with chimes, but it’s the array of pipes that makes the picture.


Ginnie said...

And with the fish-eye view, Ted, it's even more fabulous! I have the fish-eye option on my camera but almost always forget to use it. So, thanks for the reminder!

Emery Roth II said...

I've been having great fun with the fisheye, as you can see. I find it is very different from any lens I've ever used - best for pictures where the interesting stuff is at the borders.