Music at St Hilary’s is an integral part of our corporate worship and offers an opportunity for service, musical education, and spiritual enrichment for persons of all ages. St Hilary’s has a wonderful musical tradition and has always focused on its ministry of leading the congregation in worship rather than the performance of music. Our mission is to bring the Word to light and to lift the spirits in God’s presence.
The music at St. Hilary’s seeks continually to enhance the worship experience through a balanced repertoire of traditional hymns, music of the masters from the 16th to the 21st centuries, psalms, and songs of praise and renewal. The service music and hymns, most of which are congregational, come from the 1982 Hymnal of the Episcopal Church.
Music at the Saturday evening “Come As You Are” Eucharist is led by piano/keyboard and is typically more contemporary.
The adult choir sings at the 10:30am Rite II service each Sunday and during the special services of the church year. Since many of our choir members are seasonal residents to Southwest Florida, we switch to music suited for 15 or less voices during the summer time period of June, July and August. The choir membership swells to nearly 34 during “season” here in what we call “paradise,” yet there is always room for one more!
In addition to the more serious task of providing suitable music for worship services, St Hilary’s choir likes to have fun. We’re proud of our real “family” feel and look forward to opportunities to get together to enjoy each other’s company outside of our rehearsals and worship service times. St Hilary’s may in fact be the only Episcopal congregation that has a kazoo ensemble that likes to “perform” at parties and light-hearted programs when appropriate! We like to have fun.
Our Choir Director, Lester Erich and Organist, Alena Michel, as well as many of our choir members, participate in other musical endeavors locally. St Hilary’s plethora of musical talent is very visible community wide!
Our rehearsals are 6:45 p.m. until 8:45 p.m. each Thursday and warm-up time is at 9:30 a.m. Sundays. All members of the choir are volunteer adults. There are no auditions, and an ability to read music is not a requirement, although the majority in each section sight-read very well. New members quickly learn how to follow a score.
We are grateful for their willingness to get involved in so many facets of the life of St Hilary’s. When you see them, be sure to express your thanks.
Let the Chimes Ring Out! –
The Memorial Chimes, given in honor of Steven Jessop and Dick Garland, have been installed. These high quality chimes replace the ones that had been in service for many years and were almost unplayable due to their age and mechanical condition.
History of Our Pipe Organ –
The organ at St. Hilary’s has had a long history of rebuildings and additions since it was first built for the Church of The Ascension in Clearwater Florida in about 1924, by the firm of Mudler Hunter in Virginia. In circumstances unknown to us, the organ was removed from the Church in Clearwater. Part of the Clearwater organ was acquired for St. Hilary’s and probably installed here by the firm of Klug and Schumacher of Lakeland, Florida in about 1969.
St. Hilary’s present nave and sanctuary were built in 1969 and soon a search was underway for an organ. It seems that the organ that had existed in Clearwater since the 1920’s was split up and distributed between a church on Saint Armand’s Key and St Hilary’s. It is reported that St. Hilary’s portion of the gifted organ became the nucleus of the gallery organ in the new church. We are told that Church of Ascension gave this to St Hilary’s as a gift. The installation work was entrusted to Klug & Schumacher of Lakeland FL.
The present organ at St. Hilary’s is larger than that initial gift from the Clearwater church. Parts have been added to enlarge the original gifted organ. Some of the added chests appear to have been built by some organ supply house such as Organ Supply or Durst, both of Erie, Pennsylvania.
When installed the instrument was a 2 manual instrument with a console provided by Klann, (we think) another organ parts supply house.
Sometime in the 1980’s, money was available to increase the size of the instrument. Additions were made to the organ and a new 3 manual console built by Roger Colby was purchased. The console was outfitted with a Devtronics Electronic relay. This eliminated the old mechanical relays and gave the organ two levels of combination memory.
The pipe additions, however, were not so successful. Envisioned as an Antiphonal division, an 8′ Gemshorn and 8’ Celeste were added along with an 8’ Festival Trumpet. The Trumpet was a great success, but an unenclosed (not in a swellbox) Gemshorn and Celeste has limited use. While the new addition was called “Antiphonal”, it really doesn’t meet the definition of an antiphonal division. The new stops were relegated to the Choir manual (lowest keyboard) on the new console.
In about 2000, a Voicer was engaged to attempt to bring the organ into a better ensemble sound. At that time the 8’ Oboe in the Swell Division was moved to the Great division (middle keyboard) because that division had no reed and the 8’ Oboe would fit on the existing pipe chest. Some other ranks of pipes were added and voiced to work more satisfactorily in the ensemble.
The swell shades (shutters) were fitted with two separate motors and they were put on independent controls to add a further dynamic level to the Swell division by controlling the Gallery and Nave shades independently.
Over the years the console had begun to show signs of wear and General Piston #2 couldn’t be used because it stuck “in” and seized up the entire combination action. In 2011 lightening hit the church and burned holes in the Devtronic Relay components in the console. The insurance company agreed to replace the relay. We raised additional monies to replace every console control, piston and switch with Harris hardware. We chose the Harris parts because they very closely replicate the feel and reliability of E.M. Skinner and Aeolian Skinner hardware.
The new Peterson ICS-4000 incorporates many new technological improvements and allows for a greater flexibility in the way the air supply to the pipes is controlled. The organ at St. Hilary’s contains pipe chests of several types and actions. Some actions control the admission of air in every pipe within a rank individually. These are referred to as “Unit Chests.” Some other chests in our organ are those called “Pitman Chests”. Organs with Unit Chests benefit greatly from this technology because the pipes become available at other pitches, making the organ more flexible. Pitman chests are somewhat less flexible, but are better for the ensemble sound of the organ.
In 2014, the church budgeted for the replacement of the two blowers. The new ones are much quieter and have increased the volume of wind. This most recent change benefits the sound of the organ and supplies a more adequate supply of wind to the pipes.