A Reflection on the Organ


Cedric Bruges '22, Editor

Ask anyone what they think about our church on campus, and they will likely praise its parabolic curves, angelic interior, and tasteful, modern design. These are all visual qualities that make the church a grand work of art, but there is more than meets the eye—literally. Consider the towering organ, a behemoth finely crafted from tons of wood and steel, selected to help convey some of the most majestic and delicate mysteries of the Church; what about its thrilling chords, resounding lows, and smooth melodies?

A classical education in music is not required to recognize the importance of this one instrument, which serves as a connection to the profuse and rich history of the Church—to more than a millenium of church organs. Indeed, for most, the organ already seems like a link to previous centuries; the 1700s and Bach’s famous toccatas and fugues are synonymous with its public image. When its routine compositions are played every Friday, the organ serves as an instrument to bring us into the past, into the tradition of the Church; it evokes something that cannot otherwise be fully expressed. 

But on a personal level, the organ arguably plays an even more essential role. When we all convene in the church, it is the organ that produces the “Gloria,” the “Agnus Dei”—the sequences of notes that we are so familiar with. For me, the unique timbre and memorable pieces of the organ evoke a nostalgic sense of the past; the same notes I hear every Friday were first fused into my mind as a young, naive seventh grader. When I hear them now, five years later, there is the immense weight of the realization of how far we, as a grade, have all come. I cannot help but think about my journey throughout Priory—we have all changed, but the organ has remained the same. 

As is so often the case, it is only when you lose something that you realize how much you enjoyed it. When COVID-19 shattered the world last year, the lack of the organ, the choir, and all-school masses sparked my genuine appreciation for them. Weekend excitement, anxiety for upcoming tests, general fatigue, and the cascading notes from jets of pressurized air were replaced by a rather dull, silent atmosphere; that contagious, buzzing energy from each Friday was suddenly unable to spread now that everyone was distanced and masked. Their return this year has been a breath of fresh air—a sign of things to come, the restoration of a quintessential way that we all connect as brothers, a reminder of the past, and of the pandemic we are still living in. 

With everything that has been going on recently, it’s worth taking a break, stepping back, and appreciating the smaller things. Of course, this is not a novel revelation, nor do I take any pride in reminding you all of this. I am instead the humble messenger; my only wish is that someone will read this article and leave with a different view. The organ is only one example of a greater ideal. For you underclassmen, enjoy the calm before the storm, and partake in the Priory community—join clubs, have pride in your sports, and have fun. For the upperclassmen and anyone else who may be reading this, it’s good to remember that, however bountiful our time may be, it is limited. So, let’s take action and appreciate what we have. The pandemic will end, but something else will follow; a life of negativity is not one well spent.