The King of Instruments

2015-12

The King of I N S T R U M E N T S It’s the Christmas Eve service at St. John’s Episcopal. The priest has given the benediction, and the congrega-tion begins to leave. “To my eyes and ears the organ will ever be the King of Instruments.” — Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Justin Smith sets the stops of the Estey pipe organ, and then launches into Johann Sebastian Bach’s “In Dulci Jubilo.” His hands and feet move over the keys and the foot pedals, forcing air into the pipes. The church on Forest Hills Drive in Wilmington echoes with the triumphant music. “It’s a big piece for organ, and it is tradition that you play it as the postlude to the Christmas Eve service,” Smith says. It is ideal Christmas music, as Christians gather to celebrate the birth of their Savior. “In Dulci Jubilo” translates to “In Sweet Rejoicing.” It is the tune for the stirring hymn “Good Christian Men, Rejoice,” written in 1853 by John Mason Neale. BY SIMON GONZALEZ PHOTOGRAPHY B Y ALLISON POTTER 48 WBM december 2015 “Good Christian men, rejoice With heart, and soul, and voice; Give ye heed to what we say: News! News! Jesus Christ was born today: Ox and ass before Him bow, And He is in the manger now. Christ is born today! Christ is born today.” It is also a perfect piece for the pipe organ, showing off the full range and majesty of the venerable instrument. It is the kind of piece that first drew Smith to the organ. “It was the majesty and the power,” he says. “And the ability to lead people in wor-ship as well. There’s no other instrument quite like it. The sustained volume, and the ability to accompany congregation singing, that’s what the organ does best and that’s what I wanted to do.” Special music is planned in churches throughout Wilmington for the high holy days of the season.


2015-12
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