Valuable church organ burned in fire

One thing that you have to give credit to Christianity is that it gave us some great organ music and some wonderful organs were built to play them. But via a reader, I learned of a historic church organ in our region that was destroyed by fire. The reader has a personal connection to the organ that increases his sense of loss, because his father was one of the people who was instrumental in getting the organ installed. He adds:

I last heard it played a couple years ago, when I visited Lorain for the memorial service for my parents. I can’t tell you how sad it is to know it’s gone forever. In a way, I’m glad my folks aren’t alive to see this tragedy.

I can understand his feeling. My own father was instrumental in raising funds to build a wonderful public library in the north of Sri Lanka where most Tamils in Sri Lanka live, while he was working there. During the civil war, the Sri Lankan government soldiers set fire to the building, destroying valuable archival Tamil documents in the process, as part of their efforts to spite Tamils by destroying their public facilities and the symbols of their heritage and culture. I too was glad that my father had died by then so that he did not see his labor of love being deliberately destroyed by barbarians who had no respect for knowledge and history.


  1. DonDueed says

    Thanks for this, Mano.

    It’s remarkable how very much alike people’s feeling can be in similar situations, though they may come from widely differing cultures and a world apart.

    I just hope that church fire was a tragic accident and not somebody’s deliberate action, as was your father’s library fire.

  2. Lassi Hippeläinen says

    On the other hand, there isn’t much secular organ music, because all the best organs are in churches.

  3. DonDueed says


    True, but of course much of the repertoire is religious in name only, since it’s instrumental rather than choral. Notes are just notes, after all. They don’t come with metadata that tags them as being played for the sake of some god.

    And there’s always Whiter Shade of Pale.

  4. lorn says

    There is good news and bad.

    The good news is that some of the best organs have been studied in detail and could be reproduced.
    The bad news is it would be so labor intensive, specialized and expensive a project that it is unlikely that it is unlikely they will be recreated.

    Those organs, and the grand churches, were products of a unique time when religion was so powerful and wealthy that no expense or effort was beyond what could be afforded.

    On the other hand, with new materials and wealth concentration there are now individuals that could create modern grand organs that might sound better than they ever. With newer light weight materials it might be possible to make one modular and truck portable.

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