Our chapel is one of those 1970s affairs, solidly built from yellow brick and dark stained oak and what can only be described as speckled pink carpeting. It is perfectly positioned smack dab between being old enough to be charming and new enough to be nice; that is to say, it is neither. Don’t get me wrong, it is perfectly functional, and I’m grateful for it—but it won’t be winning any beauty pageants for religious architecture.
What the chapel does have, however, is a gigantic pipe organ. It is more edifice than instrument. Stainless steel pipes, capped in gold, stretch twenty-five feet from floor to ceiling, gradually decreasing in size to no more than six inches. A dozen damper flaps can be opened or closed depending on whether the hymn is to be played “triumphantly” or “with contemplation”, “humbly” or “energetically”, “calmly” or “with motion”, or my personal favorite: “exultantly”. Now that is some organ-izing.
The organ itself is one thing, but our organist is somewhat of a virtuoso. He plays the organ like Bo knows football (and everything else, apparently). When he is at the keys, the sound reverberates through the chapel until you can feel it bounce around inside your chest. Singing the hymns becomes like singing in the shower; the organ’s music evens out all the missed notes and nasally voices and general reluctance in the congregation so that even the most mediocre musical talent (which is still about three levels above me) sounds brilliant.
And so, the very first thing I noticed about my current ward was not the yellow bricks or pink carpet, but the organ and the music.
Two quick asides:
- When I visited my grandparents as a kid, my very favorite place to go eat was a restaurant called Pizza & Pipes, which is pretty much exactly what it sounds like: a pizza parlor with a big ol’ pipe organ in the back. So maybe my appreciation for the organ started early.
- My first companion on my mission was organ-playing Brit, whose admiration for the Tabernacle organ was second only to that for his awaiting sweetheart, Emma. I actually wrote “An Ode to the Organ” for him at one point, which I would include here now if it weren’t hidden beneath a mound of boxes. Check back the next time I’m moving.