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Anna Catharine Grace Memorial Pipe Organ

The Dedicatory Recital for the Anna Catharine Grace Memorial Pipe Organ, Noack Organ Company Opus 164, is on Sunday, January 9, 2022, at 4:00pm. Internationally-renowned concert organist Nathan Laube will play a varied program designed to show off all 60 stops of the instrument. A celebratory reception will follow; admission is, as with all Cathedral music events, free! Please join us! The program and program notes are available for download.

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In the early 1990s, problems surfaced with the former Cathedral pipe organ, which could not be remedied under warranty due to the bankruptcy and closing of the Möller Organ Company just a few years after the installation. The largest pipes in the facade were replaced in the late 1990s by Fr. Patrick Cullen and the late Calvert Shenk. A short time later, during the tenure of Fr. Richard Donohoe as Rector, and under the leadership of Stephan Calvert (the Cathedral’s director of music) an Organ Fund was begun in anticipation of rebuilding the Möller instrument. A capital campaign was planned for 2013, only to be delayed by the Cathedral’s exterior renovation, a project discovered to be of greater urgency and obviously greater scope.

After the renovation’s completion in 2015, Fr. Kevin Bazzel, Rector at the time, asked that the Cathedral organ be the next item addressed, due to its ever-greater disrepair (even failing during a Christmas Eve Mass). Proposals for a rebuild were solicited from some of the country’s best organ builders working in the “American Classic” style of the Möller, and a study trip of their representative work was made. While all builders and proposals were thorough and excellent, each questioned whether a rebuild would fully address the deficiencies of the Möller (outlined on its page here).

Around this time, we observed the passing of long-time parishioner Anna Catharine Grace, long known for her generosity toward liturgical and musical endeavors in the Diocese of Birmingham (such as the eponymous Grace Fund for Music and Liturgy, and the underwriting of the liturgical books of St. Bernard Abbey in Cullman, not to mention the donation of pipe organs and other instruments to parishes). Mrs. Grace was no less generous with our Cathedral parish, leaving her estate to secure the future of the Cathedral sacred music program, especially through the funding of the organ. In consultation with Fr. Bryan Jerabek, Rector, and the Cathedral finance council, proposals were solicited for a new instrument of eclectic design and mechanical (or “tracker”) action. After years of consultation with architects, organbuilders, organists around the world, and with the blessing of Bishop Robert J. Baker, in 2019 the Cathedral signed a contract for Opus 164 of the Noack Organ Company, a three-manual instrument of 75 ranks of pipes, to be named the Anna Catharine Grace Memorial Pipe Organ.

Click to enlarge.

The Anna Catharine Grace Memorial Pipe Organ, Noack Organ Company Op. 164, 2021

This organ re-integrates a number of pipes from the previous Möller instrument, incorporating them into an eclectic* instrument of French Classical and Symphonic influences well-suited to the Cathedral’s fine acoustic and the strengths of our music apostolate. It is an instrument equally at home in the liturgy and in concert; one that preserves (and enriches) many of the heroic aspects of the Möller instrument while substantially increasing quieter options for accompaniment of singers and choir. The Noack organ’s installation began in the Spring of 2021 and was completed before Christmas 2021. Bishop Steven J. Raica, Bishop of the Diocese of Birmingham in Alabama (and by happy coincidence, an organist himself), blessed the new instrument at a solemn Mass for the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary on December 8, 2021. Cathedral Choir presented Maurice Duruflé’s Messe cum jubilo along with other pieces; the voluntary was Alexandre Guilmant’s “Finale” from the First Sonata for Organ.

Just as the Cathedral church is a church for all people, where we hope all will come to adore Our Lord Jesus Christ, we hope that all will feel welcome to visit this beautiful instrument. Please contact the Director of Music for information on concerts, tours, and the like.

(*In organ building parlance, “eclectic” is a positive term meaning that an instrument is able to authoritatively play organ music of all or most stylistic periods effectively. This is a key need at the Cathedral, as organ and choral music from many national schools is performed on any given week. At the same time, the organ’s French roots will be unique in the Southeast and particularly well-suited to the Cathedral’s “old world” acoustics.)

Sacred Music

NEWS & UPCOMING EVENTS

Dedication Recital of the Anna Catharine Grace Memorial Pipe Organ

Sunday, January 9, 2022, at 4:00pm

  • We are excited to announce world-renowned concert organist Nathan Laube as organist for the dedicatory recital of Noack Organ Company Opus 164, the Anna Catharine Grace Memorial Pipe Organ, on Sunday, January 9, 2022, at 4:00pm, the Solemnity of the Baptism of Our Lord.
  • Professor Laube will present a varied program designed to show off the new pipe organ’s 60 stops and 75 ranks of pipework.
  • The organ, voiced in the style of French instruments from the 18th to 20th Century, was completed in December 2021 and blessed by Bishop Raica on December 8, 2021.
  • A festive reception will follow the dedication recital in the Cathedral Life Center Great Hall. All are welcome; admission is free to both events.
  • Please contact the Director of Music (ludwick@stpaulsbhm.org) for more information.

A New Choir at the Cathedral!

  • We are fortunate to have Bishop Raica as celebrant for most Sunday 8:30am Masses at St. Paul’s.
  • While Cathedral Choir has long been (and continues as) the principal choir of the parish, presenting the “treasury of sacred music” recommended by the Second Vatican Council and the pontiffs, it is only fitting that a pontifical Mass (that is, one celebrated by a bishop) celebrated by the diocesan bishop have a choir present.
  • While the liturgical repertoire will remain constant (hymns, antiphons in the vernacular, and Gregorian ordinary), the 8:30 choir (with the proposed name “Saint Cecilia Choir”) has as its principal role support of singing and providing more varied psalmody.
  • The group is hoped to be in place by September 12.
  • Our first goal is to ascertain an appropriate rehearsal time. Input is requested, although no guarantees are made!
  • Please contact the Director of Music (ludwick@stpaulsbhm.org or 205.251.1279×107) if you are interested, and spread the word!

Anna Catharine Grace Memorial Pipe Organ Installation

PLEASE FOLLOW THE PROGRESS OF THE INSTALLATION OF THE ANNA CATHARINE GRACE MEMORIAL ORGAN! UPDATES ON THE CATHEDRAL FACEBOOK PAGE (www.facebook.com/stpaulsbhm) AND INSTAGRAM! (www.instagram.com/stpaulsbhm)

Liturgical Music week-to-week

  • For the most current information on liturgical and sacramental schedules, check the Cathedral frontpage.
  • The 5:00pm (anticipated) Mass has hymn-singing led by cantor, organ accompaniment, and so on.
  • The Sunday 8:30AM Mass is ordinarily led by a cantor, who leads the proper of the Mass in English. The ordinary is Gregorian, sung by all, and hymns are sung, as well.
  • The 11:00am Mass is led by Cathedral Choir (or Cathedral Choir staff singers during the Summer). This allows us a unique opportunity to plumb the depths of the “treasury of sacred music” recommended so heartily by the Second Vatican Council and every pontiff since Pope St. Pius X.
    • The Ordinary of the Mass is sung to one of the Masses from the Gregorian Kyriale or to a polyphonic setting. Should you wish to follow along, the CMAA and Solesmes Abbey have graciously made the Gregorian Missal available free for download here.
    • The Proper of the Mass (including Gradual and Alleluia) is usually sung according to the Graduale Romanum, but occasionally polyphonic settings are represented as well (Byrd, Handl, Rheinberger, and Willan, to name recent examples).
    • Motets and anthems are sung ad libitum, especially during Holy Communion.
  • The Orders of Worship and Music Lists subpage is kept current so that you may see what we are preparing for upcoming weeks!

Livestreamed Masses 

  • Our 8:30AM Sunday Mass is livestreamed at the Cathedral of Saint Paul YouTube channel. These Masses are not archived, but may be viewed for a day or two after the actual liturgy.
  • Diocesan Masses and other special events (Holy Days of Obligation, etc.) can also be found on the Cathedral YouTube or Facebook pages.

In the “Sacred Music” section you can learn about the following sub-topics (also accessible through the menus). In addition, please check out the sacred music information on the diocesan Office of Sacred Liturgy website.