It was a historic day for our tiny Flemish branch when we replaced the old harmonium with a new electric organ. Nothing could better symbolize our progress, lift the morale of our handful of members, and prepare the way to convert the whole city.
Still, some regrets accompanied the exit of the crumbling harmonium. It had served to the best of its ability, with its two squeaking foot pedals to pump the bellows, and the left pedal faltering regularly. If I remember right, it had six of seven worn-out stops above the keyboard to produce voice changes, but none had ever worked properly. The two knee pedals to control volume had broken off long ago under the power of some passing missionary. The instrument still gave sounds, but our newly called local organist could not play it. A problem of distance between his feet and the foot pedals. No pumping, no voice.
So it was a wreck with limited musical memories that we carried out the building when the truck of Muziekinstrumenten Bex arrived one Thursday afternoon with the long awaited jewel. A real Hammond organ! Its polish and freshness made the old living room â€“ our chapel â€“ beam with religious revival.
Mister Bex himself made the delivery and demonstrated the capabilities.
- Twenty-nine voices, pan flute, oboe, tenor sax, clarinet, violin… For percussion, twenty variants… This is the bass guitar tuba… A special feature is the stereo reverberation…
And he played, his hands wandering over keys and voices, engulfing the room with the vibrancy of luscious variations. I, along with two other members who were present for the event, nodded approvingly, adopting the clever stare of experienced musicians.
- Thank you so much, mister Bex.
Sunday came. Our teeny knot of Saints felt renewed reverence as we gathered in the room, greeted by the smell and sight of our organ.
Welcome. Announcements. Opening hymn.
Our new organist had already taken his seat: little Frank, nine years old, three lessons far in his first piano year. And now he played, absorbedly, with one hand and one finger, his eyes jumping from hymnbook to keyboard and back.
And we sang, elated, intently watching his finger, modeling our voices to his hesitations:
O mijn Vader, die daarboven… O my Father, thou that dwellest in the high and glorious place…