"The organ has always been considered, and rightly so, the king of musical instruments, because it takes up all the sounds of creation...and gives resonance to the fullness of human sentiments, from joy to sadness, from praise to lamentation. By transcending the merely human sphere, as all music of quality does, it evokes the divine. The organ's great range of timbre, from piano to a thundering fortissimo, makes it an instrument superior to all others. It is capable of echoing and expressing all the experiences of human life. The manifold possibilities of the organ in some way remind us of the immensity and the magnificence of God."
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, Regensburg, 13 September 2006
The historic organ now making its home in St. Peter's Catholic Church was probably built c. 1890 by the H. Nelson firm of Durham, England, a small company founded there in 1883. This family firm of organ builders, whose instruments are located primarily in the North of England, flourished until 1967 when it was incorporated into the larger J.W. Walker and Sons, a firm still in existence today.
As a result of the Industrial Revolution, a large number of new churches and chapels were built in the 19th Century. The instrument now in St. Peter's is most probably one of the many pipe organs built by Nelson (and others) during that time to accomodate the growing demand. In more recent times, some of these churches have closed or remodeled, and their contents have either been sold off or discarded entirely.
This organ arrived in Texas a number of years ago, along with the contents of some "redundant" (the English term for disused) churches in a container with windows, pews, and other ecclesiastical furnishings. It was stored for several decades, first in Albany, Texas, and then in the Fort Worth organ factory of Roy Redman, a noted area organ builder and specialist in the restoration of older instruments. Mr. Redman and his team restored this instrument in the spring of 2010, at which time the organ was heard for the first time in many decades. At the same time, St. Peter's Church was undergoing a full-scale restoration effort. A visit by Fr. Raymond McDaniel (then Pastor of St. Peter's) confirmed that this organ would indeed be ideal for St. Peter's Church in every way; its size, scaling (mathematical ratio of pipe length to its diameter) and other tonal qualities and, not least of all, visual impact, met the needs of the small but acoustically-active interior. The organ was purchased in 2010, and was installed in the church in 2011.
Its facade pipes repainted to match the resplendent interior of the church, this glorious instrument has regained its voice. In a new home on a new continent, it beautifully leads the praises of Almighty God. A few years' use has proven its value at accompanying choirs, leading congregational singing, and playing the organ repertoire. Comments of parishoners and visitors alike affirm that "it looks as if it has always been there."
St. Peter's Organ
H.J. Nelson (?) Durham, England, c. 1890
Restored 2010, Redman Organ Company, Fort Worth, Texas
Great: 58 notes, unenclosed Swell: 58 notes, enclosed
8' Open Diapason 8' Lieblich Gedeckt
8' Rohr Flute 8' Viole d'Orchestre
8' Dulciana 4' Gemshorn
4' Principal 2' Piccolo
Pedal: 30 notes