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Spirits lifted on Pentecost

by Michael Ford last modified 28 May, 2021 07:47 PM

Always a joyous day in the Christian calendar, Pentecost Sunday had special meaning for many parishes after lockdown was eased, and one parish saw a triumphant return.

Spirits lifted on Pentecost

The console in the sanctuary- original photo by Geoffrey Murray

Geoffrey Murray, from St Mary's Weymouth, says:

"The Holy Spirit truly filled Weymouth’s town centre church of St Mary’s on Pentecost as the congregation gloried in the return of a much-loved fixture.

"Those arriving for the Sunday morning service were thrilled to hear the sound of organ music resonating through the building for the first time in over a year. And they departed much heartened by the traditional end to a service – a triumphal voluntary.

"To understand the significance, one needs to know the organ was only restored to glory after delicate surgery on its deteriorating leather in March 2020.

Almost immediately, however, that was silenced as church doors closed across the country in the first of a succession of Covid-19 lockdowns. Although services resumed at St Mary’s this past Easter Sunday, the organ console remained shrouded and mute in a corner of the sanctuary.

"This was because a violent rainstorm last autumn left roof damage and a leak in the North Gallery, above where the console was located. It had to moved to accommodate scaffolding that remains in place and cosseted to protect its fragile workings from dust and debris generated by the repair work above.

"That work continues; however, the contractors erected a net under the damaged section that removed this particular danger.

"Thus, on Pentecost, the organ burst forth once again to everyone’s delight, played by the Revd Paul Selley, an accomplished organist and one of several retired vicars in the five-church parish that help ease the workload of the clergy team.

"With congregational singing in church still not possible, Paul was largely restricted to a medley of hymns before the service and the post-service voluntary; however, he did accompany church warden Iona McLeod who, for some time, has been providing a weekly a cappella hymn – on this occasion “Come Down O Love Divine” – between the recorded music.

"With pipe organs a fading part of church life in the UK, the people of St Mary’s treasure their beautiful instrument. Its return to life is a sign of returning normality and the approach of the day when they can burst forth in song again in praise of God’s infinite grace and love.

"Historical note: St Mary’s got a “two-manual organ” installed in the west gallery in 1859. In the early 1950s, it was rebuilt and enlarged to a three-manual, 40-stop instrument with a detached console in the sanctuary."

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