Aeolian Skinner Pipe Organ

Pipe Organ

IMG_0490The organ is located in the gallery at the rear, or north end, of the chapel. The university chapel choir generally sings from the choir loft.

Organ ArticleThe Charles W. Spofford and Beula Merville Spofford organ was built by the Aeolian-Skinner Organ Company of Boston, Massachusetts. It was made possible by a gift from Mr. and Mrs. Spofford, class of 1896. The organ case was designed by Edward Grey Halstead, architect of the chapel. The fifteen shields crowning the center section of the case are the liturgical symbols for Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, flanked on either side by the symbols of the twelve apostles.

The Shields

OrganThe order of the shields, reading from left to Right, is:

Crossed Keys—St. Peter: The key is the historic symbol of Peter, derived from Jesus’ words to him, “I will give you the keys of the kingdom” (Matthew 16:18).

Cross Saltire—St. Andrew: Tradition has it that Andrew was put to death on a cross of this kind while preaching in Greece.

Three Shells—St. James the Greater: The escallop shell is the symbol of pilgrimage.

Chalice and Serpent—St. John: Early Christian writers reported that an attempt was made to kill John by giving him a chalice of poison to drink.

Cross and Loaves—St. Philip: Philip was present when Jesus fed the multitude with the loaves and fishes.

Ship—St. Jude: The ship symbolizes his missionary journeys.

Open Hand: Symbol of God the Father.

Cross and IHS: Symbol of God the Son.

Descending Dove: Symbol of the Holy Spirit.

OrganSaw—St. James: He died a martyr’s death and was “sawn asunder.”

Purses of Money—St. Matthew: The purses symbolize his work in the profession of tax collecting.

Spear and Carpenter’s Square—St. Thomas: The square represents this patron saint of builders who was run through with a spear by a pagan priest in India, where he was preaching.

Flaying Knives—St. Bartholomew: According to tradition, Bartholomew was flayed to death as a Christian by such knives.

Fish and Book—St. Simon: The Cananean Simon is so symbolized because, as an evangelist, he was a great fisher of men.

OrganBook and Axe—St. Matthias: This was the apostle who replaced Judas Iscariot and who was ultimately stoned and beheaded after his missionary work in Judea.

There are one hundred ranks of pipes in five divisions: Great, Recit, Ruckpositiv, Brustwerk, and Pedal. The Ruckpositiv is placed on the gallery rail. The Brustwerk in the classic position is enclosed in its own case with doors on the front, operable from the console. The main body of the organ conforms to the classic placement of divisions, each in its own case. The pedal towers frame the manual divisions, which are stacked vertically in order: Brustwerk, Great, Recit. There are over five thousand pipes in the instrument.