Morey Opus 183 at Trinity Lutheran, Stone Arabia
Clarence E. Morey’s Opus 183 was delivered to Trinity Lutheran Church in Stone Arabia, New York, via a horse-drawn carriage circa 1900. With the exception of the electrification of its blower and the music stand light, the instrument remains very close to its original condition. The original manual pump handle for the bellows remains extant and the instrument can still be played using it. It is a tracker, or mechanical action organ, comprised of a single manual, with seven registers and six ranks totaling 354 pipes, and with two expression pedals that control a single shade. There is no pedal organ. The instrument is presently installed to the right of the altar in the chancel in a beautiful sanctuary with painted tin walls. The church has an active Lutheran congregation since it’s founding in 1729 that continues to worship there on Sunday mornings, presently under Pastor Zachary Labagh.
On Friday May 9th, 2014 at 7pm, an organ recital was performed on this instrument with close to 160 in attendance (almost the seating capacity of 166 in the sanctuary). Dr. Eric Stroud, Ms. Naphtali Rothrock, Mrs. Norma Bowley, and Mrs. Jan MacLauchlin (part time current service organist for 17 years and the current service organist) all performed organ works for manuals. Joining them were Mrs. Anne Cooper, flutist, Mr. Terry Gordon, trumpet, and the Rev. Ken Dingman, vocalist. Mr. Sid Chase, the instrument’s curator since 1975, was in attendance and assisted Dr. Stroud with a “show and tell” presentation of the interior workings of the instrument, aided by a video projector and remote camera. Sid Chase performed minor repairs to this instrument in 2005 after the instrument suffered water damage from a leaky roof. The recital was coordinated and promoted by Mrs. Kathleen Schlotzhauer, a long time member of the congregation there.
Morey Opus 183 speaks on 2 ½ – 3” of wind pressure and is about a half step below A440. Six indigenous fieldstones act as weights on the main reservoir. A portion of the 8’ diapason rank comprises the façade pipes. These pipes are made from zinc and are beautifully stenciled. All of the twenty one façade pipes speak except for pipes 2 and 3 (left side) and 19 and 20 (right side). The expression pedals’ mechanism is remarkable because they counterbalance. The left pedal, when depressed, closes the expression shades while simultaneously raising the right pedal. Conversely, depressing the right pedal raises the left pedal and opens the shades. With the assistance of Sid Chase, we explored this mechanism and it is quite simple: A plain rope (presently nylon clothesline), which is fed through a pulley, moves one of two large wooden vertical sliders at the edges of the interior organ. As the sliders rise or fall, the shades pivot.
- 4’ Flute d’Amour (upper terrace)
- 2’ Super Octave (upper terrace)
- 8’ Oboe Gamba (lower terrace)
- 8’ Diapason (lower terrace)
- 8’ Melodia (upper terrace)
- 8’ Dulciana (upper terrace)
- Tremulant (lower terrace)
The Famed Starling in the Great C Facade Pipe
One amazing story, shared at the historic recital by organist Naphtali Rothrock (who was the service organist at the time), involves a starling that found its way into the bass C pipe of the 8′ diapason of the Morey 183 in May of 2012. The bird popped its head out of the mouth of the pipe while a hymn was being played. The bird apparently fell into the pipe from the top, and became logged right above the languid. The congregation came to the aid of the bird, and was able to free it from the pipe by slightly opening the mouth. The bird attended the rest of the service that day and found its way to freedom thereafter! The bass C facade 8′ diapason still bears some dents below the languid from this event, but still speaks mightily. An excerpt from the church newsletter that year follows:
“Trinity Welcomes All God’s Creatures! Trinity attracted an unusual visitor to a Sunday service. At the start of the worship service on May 27th, 2012, a strange noise was heard in the corner of the church as organist Naphi played the first hymn. Each time she started to play, a bird poked its heard out of one of the organ pipes. The bird apparently loves music as it stayed there for the entire service. The bird was freed from the organ pipe at the end of the service.”
Photos are courtesy of Margaret Schlotzhauer.
Hall, Jonathan B.. “A Gem Along the Mohawk: The 1901 Morey Organ in Stone Arabia, New York,” The Tracker (Vol. 56, Nos. 3 & 4, [Sum/Fall 2012], pp. 18-21).