New organ for St. Barnabas, Omaha

Our commenter godfrey1099 has pointed us in the direction of the facebook page of St. Barnabas Ordinariate Church in Omaha, Nebraska, for this next piece of news:

June 4, 2015: A note from Father Scheiblhofer –

What’s 28 feet wide, 18 feet tall and weighs about a half a ton?

In the old days I probably would have made a mother-in-law joke of that. But since she has gone to her great reward and is now looking up at me … I’m trying to be nice.

Actually, the real answer to that question is: St. B’s new pipe organ.

For quite some time we’ve been keeping our old organ going with duct tape, hymnals, string, bailing wire, etc. The console (the part where the organist sits and plays the keys and controls the stops) has been shot as long as I’ve been at St. B’s. Several stops tabs are broken, sometimes they flop up and down on their own, the contacts sometimes do weird things, yadda, yadda. Sometime it was definitely going to need to be replaced.

Out of the blue comes a letter from Dr. Marie Rubis Bauer, the organist at St. Cecilia’s Cathedral and the Director of Music for the Archdiocese, alerting the diocesan priests of the availability of a splendid Casavant Pipe Organ. Benson Presbyterian Church had merged with several other Presbyterian churches and had sold their building. The new owners didn’t want the organ – in fact, they insisted that it be removed or they would toss it out. Someone was needed to save this lovely instrument. The replacement value of the organ is $750,000!

Marie called me personally to ask if we were interested in the organ. I happen to have a personal history with this particular organ and its long-time player, Harry Payne. The Benson Pres organ was one that we auditioned when considering an organ for the parish I was serving in 1975 as music director. Due to the qualities of the Benson organ that parish bought a Casavant, and because of that purchase UNO bought their large Casavant for the Strauss Recital Hall. Since then several other major organs have been bought from Casavant because of the quality of these instruments. When Harry Payne’s daughter was to be married at Benson Pres, Harry did me the great honor of asking me to play for that event. His daughter married a young attorney who now happens to be the attorney in charge of the closing arrangements for Benson Pres.

The people of Benson Presbyterian had several paying offers for the instrument from organ builders. However, they really wanted the organ to stay in Omaha and to be a continuing part of worship here. Because of this they kindly turned down the paying offers and agreed to GIVE the organ to us at St. B’s – knowing that ours is a quality music program and will continue to be such. We have been truly blessed with this splendid gift and owe a debt of gratitude to the people of Benson Presbyterian. We know firsthand the emotions involved with the thought of losing a church building and, while we were spared that, they have turned their loss into a blessing for another congregation.

There is one hitch to this – a fairly good-sized one. The organ will have to be removed in a very short space of time – within a five day period to be exact. Benson Presbyterian’s last service in the building will be this Sunday, June 7th. The new owners want to be in the building by June 13 – meaning the organ has to be out by June 12th. That means nearly 1500 pipes have to be boxed up, bucket-loads of screws have to be unscrewed, casework has to be dismantled, chests unwired, blower and wind trunks dismantled – all-in-all, LOTS to be done in a short period of time. Here’s where I’m requesting your help – and the help of anyone you know.

We are in need of LOTS of newspaper to wrap and pack pipes. Also, boxes with lids or storage bins (the long, skinny kind) with lids would be very helpful for storing and moving pipes. Think storing rolls of gift wrap paper. Please bring whatever you can to church on Sunday so we can get started early Monday morning.

And, speaking of Sunday – we will be celebrating St. Barnabas Day on that day. We’d like to have a special coffee hour, so I’m asking that people whose last names are in the first half of the alphabet (A-L) bring something savory to share, and those in the second half (M-Z) bring something sweet to share. After this Sunday the Undercroft is going to be burgeoning with organ parts (what’s new, right?!?!?) so it may be that we’ll be in tight quarters for the summer until the new organ is installed. Plans are to have everything ready in plenty of time for our Building Centennial Celebration on September 13.

Lots of exciting things are happening around the parish. As the old song says, “In the morning, in the evening, ain’t we got fun!”

Fr. S.

p.s. Here you can see the organ in its old home at Benson Presbyterian

new organ in old home at Benson Presbyterianp.p.s. Want to know something about the Casavant Freres organbuilders? Here’s their website: http://www.casavant.ca/

For a video of the organ, click here: https://video-fra3-1.xx.fbcdn.net/hvideo-xat1/v/t42.1790-2/11280920_10155684474570154_1409629696_n.mp4?efg=eyJ2ZW5jb2RlX3RhZyI6InJlc180MjZfY3JmXzIzX21haW5fMy4wX3NkIn0%3D&oh=8a9a45d647cce65da2a94c7d3cdea0a7&oe=558694FF

This video is taken from part of the Great Division on top of the organ to give a general view of the layout.

Please note that musically this is about the worst place to record sound as full room is needed for the sounds to come together.

June 10, 2015: Organ update from Father –

Greetings All.

With the gracious help of very dedicated volunteers the pipes have been removed from the organ and safely wrapped and crated.

Beginning this evening we will be taking apart the oak casework and finally the windchests.

We could use some help this evening, tomorrow, and possibly Friday as well, to take this apart in preparation for moving. This work will require some physical strength and let me warn you that the church is not air-conditioned. Dress lightly and prepare to be dirty.

The church is located on 56th and Corby – which is one block south of the Radial Highway. There is parking on the side of the building and also a lot on the north side of the building. Enter on the south side.

I will be sending out updates as to the progress and if we need more help.

Fr. S.

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One Response to New organ for St. Barnabas, Omaha

  1. Matthew the Wayfarer says:

    SO, THAT’S WHAT A PRESBY CHURCH LOOKS LIKE FROM THE INSIDE – NOT BAD. A CONTINUING ANGLICAN GROUP COULD FIX IT UP REALLY NICE AND YES THE ORGAN IS TOO MUCH OF A MONSTER FOR THIS SANCTUARY.
    HOPE THINGS WORK OUT FOR ALL PARTIES INVOLVED.

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