Dedicated to the glory of God
and in loving memory of
Juanita Webster Ruble
“The Story of Our Organ”
by Dennis Fisher, organ project engineer
It all begins with “ Soli Deo Gloria”… to the glory of God alone! This pronouncement was appended to each of the scores composed by Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750), the world’s most renowned composer of organ music. For us Presbyterians, this lays the foundation for the central role of music in reformed worship - congregational singing, choral renditions of our several choirs, instrumental ensembles, majestic preludes, offertories, postludes and other solo works - moving us in the deepest places of our lives and expressing, far beyond words, both the immanence and transcendence of God. In turn, the pipe organ provides the cornerstone of virtually all these musical elements. Indeed, the pipe organ is often referred to as the “King of Instruments”, owing to it’s versatility in a wide variety of “instrumental voices”, incredible dynamic range and rich musical repertoire spanning several centuries, all at the fingertips (and feet) of a single musician!
When our present sanctuary was built in 1958, a large organ was envisioned, and a correspondingly large organ chamber was included. However, upon completion of the building, only a relatively small 16 rank Moller organ, having limited capabilities, was affordable; the intention was to expand it later. Well, later turned out to be about a half century, during which countless expansion proposals were explored, but none was realized. That is, until in late 2004, RCPC was approached by Second Presbyterian Church in Roanoke with an offer to donate their 29 rank Moller organ, highly compatible with our organ, the two having been built within the same time-frame. The only condition was that it be removed within a month to make room for the immanent installation of their new Goulding & Wood organ.
Thus began a monumental project that spanned the next six years. This complex project was unorthodox, to say the least. It involved integrating two existing pipe organs, adding new pipes and digital voices, adding a new 4-manual control console, and utilizing independent companies for design, manufacturing, significant infrastructure modifications, major sanctuary acoustic improvements and installation...all coordinated by a retired electrical engineer, with no prior organ experience!
Despite the many challenges encountered, the outcome was gratifying.
Organ was expanded over four-fold to 77 ranks, creating a wide dynamic range of sound
Accessible repertoire was significantly broadened owing to the many new ‘voices’
Acoustics were improved, resulting in uniform sound throughout the long sanctuary
Elegant ~1,000 pipe visual display surrounds the chancel, augmenting ~2,000 chamber pipes
Most important: a transformation in the corporate worship experience… “Soli Deo Gloria”
The Inaugural Recital, featuring Richard Cummins, was held on March 13, 2011.
The 24 page recital brochure, with ‘story’ details, 54 photos, and organ specs, is also able here.
Download Inaugural Recital Brochure
Donors: Second Presbyterian Church, Warren W Hobbie Charitable Trust, Francis Petty Estate, RCPC Endowment Fund, Juanita Ruble Estate, Members of RCPC
Organ Consultant: Richard Cummins, renowned organist and former representative of Moller
RCPC Organ Committee; Tupper Garden, Pastor; Linda Mayes, Music Director
Organ builder: Hagerstown Organ Company, Craig Doyle, President
Infrastructure Prime Contractor: Gauldin Construction, Inc.
Organ installer: R.L. Victorine, Inc.
Dedicated to the glory of God and in loving memory of Juanita Webster Ruble