The first images that catch the eye as we enter our Cathedral are those of the altar that has pride of place as the central focal point of the building. Our gaze is then drawn upwards to the Archbishops Chair and onwards to the central arrangement of organ pipes displayed above the Blessed Sacrament Chapel with the magnificent trumpets pointing outwards on each side. For probably the next 18 months the harmony of that image that we are used to will be broken as work begins to renovate and refurbish the grand Cathedral Organ. After 54 years the organ is in desperate need of repair with preliminary discussions regarding this work taking place almost five years ago. It has taken this long for work on site to begin and during that time we have had a few occasions when the instrument has developed faults which have rendered it almost unplayable. Despite the significant disturbance at present and the longer term inconvenience this is essential work to enable the Cathedral organ to accompany our liturgies and support the musical life of this place for the next 50 years.
The scaffolding structure should be completed by this weekend. The organ console has been stripped down and taken off site already and for the next five weeks the process of removing most of the pipes and working parts of the instrument gets underway. The largest organ pipes will remain. After everything has been stripped down this will be taken offsite to be worked on and then returned and rebuilt in 15 months time. All of this at a cost of roughly £1.2 million. As with everything within our cathedral everything is on a grand scale particularly when it comes to repairs and costs. We will in the near future have to start up a major fund raising campaign which will not be easy at such difficult time when individuals and organisations everywhere are facing huge financial difficulties. I could go on the streets busking but probably wouldn’t make much. Mind you it is much cheaper to change the strings on a guitar than repair an organ!
Ash Wednesday falls on 17th February this year. There will be two masses on that day at the Cathedral at 12 Midday and 5pm.
Canon Anthony O’Brien