One Body, Many Parts

Bryan Taylor

R&R Chair for Music in Worship SWACDA

April 2019

Scripture Reading:  1 Corinthians 12:12-31

Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.  

Vs. 27

Our bodies are so amazingly made. Every part of the body relates and depends on the other parts to function properly. When we experience a lower backache or sprained ankle, toothache, or a tennis elbow, it affects other parts of the body, as well. We then, our church pastors and staff, have different/separate roles and functions, but we work together as one to be the body of Christ.  

Another way we can look at many parts working together for a common task is that of the pipe organ. Known as the King of Instruments, the pipe organ is the only wind instrument that can replicate almost every instrument in the orchestra. Like our team of staff, it consists of many parts/individuals: the console, (pastors) where the organist plays the keyboards (manuals) and pedals, the wind-raising device/motor (support staff/council), and the wind chest with all of its ranks of pipes (individual staff and their ministries and our congregation).

A rank of pipes is a set of pipes of a given timbre or sound (trumpets/oboe, diapason, principal, etc.) which generally have 61 pipes each, from low to high.  Each rank of pipes can be played separately, combined together in small or large groups, or can be combined in full, or ‘tutti’...’pulling out all of the stops’.  Each rank sounds fine on its own, sets in its own wind chest, can be housed in one main pipe chamber, but are usually divided in a Great, Swell, Pedal, Solo, and Antiphonal.  Some pipes are made of wood or metal and can be the size of pencils or as big as 32 foot in length and weigh hundreds of pounds. The pipes are in many different shapes as well, cylindrical, conical, or rectangular.  Some pipes are placed in cases/chambers that have shutters on them to adjust the volume, others are exposed, like a trumpet en chamade, which are powerful and fanfare in nature. These aren't played in every worship service, but mainly for special occasions, festive hymns and weddings.

Our Liberty UMC organ has 23 ranks (families) of pipes - over 1,340 pipes, chimes, and a zimbelstern...a set of bells which are rung by a spinning wheel, making a brass jingling sound when engaged. Like the different players on our staff and ministries, the Liberty UMC pipe ranks include principal, bourdon, rohrflute, dulciana, quint, fourniture III-V, viola de gamba, celeste, oboe, clarion, and more. All of these unique stops/ranks and all of our unique ministries were created to make an amazing masterpiece showcasing Christ, the original Composer of our lives.

The wind that makes the pipes of the organ sound, and the breath/air that enables us to sing, pray, and preach, are both like the Spirit of God, which blows where it can and will, breathing life into us and empowering us to do the things God has given us to do.  We, the people of God, through whom the Spirit (which in Hebrew is the same word for wind) wants to blow and move in order to become part of God’s glorious song. Keep creating your unique sound in this amazing instrument you are blessed to work within – your own church staff and musical ensembles.