The new organ in Saint Mary's Chapel at the Sain Paul Seminary was not only to be a fitting instrument for the seminarians' services, but also provide a good example of what might be a fine organ for many of the parishes which they some day might serve. Perhaps it was a blessing that the planning process took well over twenty years, allowing ideas to ferment, dreams to be molded into reality and, we hope, to find a valid solution. Our files go back to 1979 and a letter from Charles Fisk to Elizabeth Stodola with a proposal for an organ still assuming the old balcony, and later reports about Brother Frank Kacmarick's stunning renovation of the chapel. In 1989 I had the pleasure of attending early planning sessions with Sue Seid-Martin, as well as with David Jenkins, with whom we were privileged to work through many stages to the final conclusion.
To serve a seminary chapel the organ has to address a few special requirements. It must, of course, be able to lead congregational and choir singing and perform a wide range of organ literature suitable for this setting. In addition, we realized that a congregation of seminarians needs a fuller sound, on the one hand, and more than just a quiet flute stop for the accompaniment of chant on the other. All of this we aimed to accomplish with no more stops than necessary, making an example of good stewardship. The organ is not a copy of one in any place particular historic style, although some kinship with baroque German organs and 19th century New England organs can be found.
The case front was originally to have 16-foot-tall front pipes, but with a somewhat more disciplined approach 8-foot diapasons have been provided for both the great and pedal fronts in the upper part of the instrument. As the organ visually serves as the termination of the (liturgical) north end of the chapel, this de facto reredos needed to be quite tall; at 27 and one-half feet, the organ is considerably taller than necessary to accommodate the pipework. The swell division is housed in the lower part of the organ, hidden behind a very simple, delicate grill of the same design as the pipe shades.
The pipework is made from 20 percent lead and 70 percent tin, except for the ash bass pipes. A wedge-shaped bellows provides wind that is just flexible enough to add a human quality to the sound. A slightly unequal temperament (Valotti) was used, rendering the simpler keys (with fewer flats or sharps) more pleasant than equal temperament.
I join my fellow organ builders at The Noack Organ Co., Inc. in expressing our gratitude for the opportunity to build this organ. In addition to the individuals already mentioned we would like to thank Tom Fisch, Father Phillip Rask, Father Charles Froehle, Thomas Keefe, James Callahan, James Frazier, Delores Bruch Cannon, and Richard Prolux who all contributed to the success of this project in their own valuable way. We hope this organ will bring joy and peace to the worshippers in Saint Mary's Chapel for many years to come.