Sumner Jenkins – Organist/Choirmaster
Sumner joined St. Paul’s in September 2016 after serving churches in North Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, and Connecticut.
Are you interested in joining our merry band?
Contact the Choirmaster, Sumner Jenkins, for more information.
The St. Paul’s Choir leads the music at the 10:00 a.m. Holy Eucharist year round. A group of about sixteen adults, occasionally joined by the Senior Choristers, this choir presents anthems and service music that span the centuries of the great music of the Church. A repertoire of challenging choral music keeps the singers busy, but they also enjoy a warm fellowship. New members are welcome!
Rehearsals: Sunday following the 10:00 a.m. liturgy, September – May
Sunday Warm-up Rehearsal: 9:00 a.m. year round
The St. Paul’s Choristers
St. Paul’s is proud to be affiliated with the Royal School of Church Music in America. Voice for Life, a graded choral formation program for singers young and old, is incorporated in the weekly rehearsals. The Voice for Life program provides a framework for choral singers to develop musical understanding and proper vocal habits & skills. Through the program choristers become mentors for each other, learn about liturgy and the church, and assume a role of leadership for those around them; all which are carried through to their adulthood.
The St. Paul’s Choristers is a choir for boys and girls in 1st grade and older. The choir begins rehearsal together for warm-up exercises and general discussions based on the needs of the day. The group then divides juniors and seniors for concentrated time together and come together to finish the day’s rehearsals.
Prior to the COVID Pandemic the Choristers sang approximately once a month at the 10:30 a.m. liturgy. We are currently working to bring them back into rehearsal as soon as it is safe to do so. Contact Mr. Jenkins, Choirmaster, for more information.
The St. Paul’s Hand Bell Choir
The St. Paul’s Hand Bell Choir rings a three-octave set of Schulmerich hand bells. The bell ringers prepare preludes and accompaniments for certain anthems and hymns during the year, and they have played at a retirement home, at a community ecumenical service, and outside of Kroger’s for the Salvation Army red kettle Christmas collection! The Choir is made up of about eleven bell ringers and is open to adults and youth. A great sense of fun and fellowship characterizes the hard work of this choir. New members are welcome!
Rehearsals: Contact Mr. Jenkins, Choirmaster, for more information
Music Care Ministry,
A Compassionate Outreach Ministry, Through Harp and Voice
Music Care is live acoustic music shared through harp and voice, provided by a Certified Clinical Musician (CCM). It is an art based on the science of sound, tailored to meet the person’s immediate physical, emotional and spiritual needs by watching body language, breathing, and vital signs indicated on monitors. This music can bring comfort to people dealing with a variety of illnesses. It can also journey with the person in hospice care, or those who feel isolated due to a health change, to surround them with peace, presence and love.
St. Paul’s has a long and storied history of organs in the church. The first organ in Lynchburg was in St. Paul’s, installed in 1826, and created quite a controversary. Read all about it, and all the instruments of St. Paul’s!
The first instruments: Hall & Erben/1826 & Wm. B.D. Simmons/1851
The Hall & Erben Co. of New York built the first organ for St. Paul’s in 1826. The instrument had six stops in the Great Organ and four stops, including a Hautboy (Oboe) in the “Small” Organ. It is quite possible the organ had no pedal board as we know it today as there are no pedal stops listed. The organ, though small by today’s standards, was remarkable for the day, and even more so that it was delivered from New York. The entire town seems to have come together to raise the funds for the instrument:
We have been highly gratified at the liberality displayed by almost all classes among us, in raising the amount required; but we know of none who have higher claims upon the public thanks than the Lynchburg Thespian Society, who of their own accord, without solicitation from any quarter, generously devoted their receipts to this object, to the amount of $500. (Virginian, November 5, 1826).
This instrument did not come without controversy. A century later The Diapason (a national magazine dedicated to the organ) described the same event:
A great innovation was made Nov. 13 [1826) when a pipe organ was introduced into the [St. Paul’s] church. Some thought it a very questionable proceeding. Nothing before had been seen like it in Lynchburg. The Rev. F. G. Smith preached a sermon upholding the use of an organ in the church, but this did not heal the breach. Sentiment was greatly divided, some holding that the use of an organ in religious services was sacrilegious, and that they would absent themselves from any church that was guilty of this sin; others held that God could be praised by the use of an instrument as well as by the human voice, and they rejoiced in the new music. The agitation brought many to church to hear the new “machine.” Among the organizations that took a great deal of interest in it were Marshall Lodge and the Thespian Society. Each contributed to it, the latter as much as $500, which was raised by entertainments. It may seem strange to us that there should have been any, question as to the use of an organ in church but to many people at this time, and even later, it was a problem hard to solve.
The 1826 building soon became inadequate for the growing congregation and a new building opened on April 20, 1851. The new building housed an organ by Wm. B.D. Simmons of Boston. It is highly like that Simmons took the Hall & Erben in trade for partial payment for the new organ.
Hall & Erben parted ways in 1827 and both continued successfully through the 19th century. (Henry) Erben would soon become the leading organ builder in New York, eventually opening a second shop in Baltimore. His shop closed about 1875 and reopened 1879-1884 as Henry Erben & Son. Wm. B.D. Simmons built organs from 1838 through 1876 and, like Erben, was a leading builder in Boston, MA.
The Mollers 1895/1906 and Kilgen 1930 in the current building
In 1895 the M.P. Möller Company of Hagerstown, MD installed the first instrument in the current St. Paul’s building. The instrument was their Op. 140, with 40 ranks across 3 manuals (keyboards) and pedal. The instrument was located in the left bay at the front of the church. It was built with tracker (mechanical) action, meaning its keys were connected to the chests, where the pipes are located, with thin strips of wood called trackers, which, given the organs size, meant it was probably difficult to play.
A contract was signed with Möller on December 12, 1906 to renovate the 1895 instrument, becoming their Op. 734. Several ranks from the 1895 instrument were replaced and the action was converted from tracker to tubular pneumatic, the hot innovation of the day. Tubular pneumatic replaced the trackers with small lead tubing, depressing a key caused the tube to pressurize, activating a mechanism which allowed the pipe to play. This action, while innovative at the time, became problematic very quickly. The seeming miles of lead tubing were prone to leaks causing the organ to be 1) very noisy, and 2) very sluggish in key response, often to the point of not functioning. These instruments were somewhat decidedly called “tubercular rheumatic” organs.
By the late 1920s the 1906 organ was most likely in poor repair. Additionally, musical tastes had shifted quite drastically in the late 1910s and 1920s rendering some of the 1895/1906 organ “out of style.” The Geo. Kilgen and Son Organ Company of St. Louis, Missouri installed their Op. 4556 in 1930. This instrument was a great departure from the preceding Möller organ(s). It had an electric action, a vast improvement over the previous instrument’s tubular pneumatic action, and its style of sound was more in line with the times, an instrument that was very orchestral in nature with many more stops imitating orchestral instruments. This also produced an instrument which departed from the concept of a “clean sound.” Additionally, with the introduction of an electric action many stops could be “shared,” i.e. the same set of pipes on different stop tabs on different manuals. The instrument had many more stop tabs than the previous Möller, 60, but far fewer ranks, 32, than the previous organ (in later years this came to haunt this style of building).
The Kilgen fell into poor repair, through age and some rather questionable building practices of the time, had become unreliable by the mid 1960’s. Again, as happened in the late 1910s and 1920s, musical styles and tastes had shifted drastically, and the concept of an orchestral instrument was no longer desirable. Organists and organ builders wanted instruments that more closely followed the instruments built during the Baroque era (1600-1750), and specifically those from The Netherlands and Germany. The ideal was an organ that played Bach and his contemporaries but without much consideration for composers from later periods. This movement actually started in the mid-1930s but took to full steam after WWII. By the 1960s builders had moved far down that road and instruments became, tonally, what those builders interpreted as a pure Baroque style. St. Paul’s current organ comes from that style of building.
The current organs
In 1970 three organ companies M.P. Möller, Schantz, and Holtkamp were contacted to make proposals to replace the Kilgen organ. The organist at the time, Roger Cole, had recently installed a Holtkamp at Randolph Macon College (now Randolph College) and Holtkamp seemed to be the company he preferred, however the Holtkamp proposal came in significantly more expensive that the others and there was a longer wait for delivery. This does not speak badly about Möller or Schantz, I believe Mr. Cole preferred a Holtkamp based on the Randolph organ.
Ultimately Schantz was chosen and their Op. 1097 was installed in 1972. The Schantz Company opened shop in 1878 and has enjoyed a fine reputation throughout its life. Their instruments are well built and solid. One might joke that their organs are built like a Sherman tank, virtually indestructible. From a tonal aspect, the instrument reflected the thought of the day, which was heavily influenced by German organs from the 18th century. Visually the organ is laid out in a stacked design; the Positif division is on the rail, the Pedal and Swell divisions at the choir level, and the Great division on top. While this is very consistent with the style of the instrument, maintain the organ, especially its tuning, is difficult. Tuning depends upon consistent temperature and each division lives in its own climate region of the church, making consistency virtually impossible. The instrument plays Bach and his contemporaries well, but struggles with literature from 19th century composers and many composers from the 20th century; also, choral music in the 18th century was not a part of the church service in the same way it is today. While we “make it work,” it is often less than satisfying from a musician’s standpoint.
The organ has served this congregation well for almost 50 years, but is now showing its age. There have been a number of small mechanical issues which have arisen; some were able to be repaired, but some not. Currently these issues are not noticeable to the listener, however as the organ ages its mechanism will continue to fail and the failures will become glaringly obvious. Also, musical styles and tastes have changed over the last 50 years. Builders and designers take a broad approach that works to create an instrument that can successfully play music from all historic periods as well as accompany choral literature from that same span of time.
The chancel organ, a 2010 Bennett and Giutarri tracker continuo organ, is patterned on a 17th-century kisten (box or chest) organ by Manderscheidt of Nüremberg, Germany, and consists of three ranks of wooden pipes. The portativ organ is used to accompany the Choristers and for Celtic Evensongs and other services and concerts.