A History of the Organs at Covenant Church
The first instrument at Westminster Presbyterian Church (the result of merger of First and Second Presbyterian Churches in Scranton) was a gift of the William W. Scranton, given in memory of Joseph and Cornelia Scranton. The 3-manual & pedal organ was built by the Hutchings-Votey Organ Co., and was designed with 4 matching pipe facades, stenciled by Tiffany & Company, and placed on either side of the chancel: 2 sets on the East front were speaking pipes, 2 sets on the West front were silent. This instrument served the congregation well for many years, but by 1928, styles had changed; console capabilities had been drastically modernized and so a new organ was purchased. Built by the Austin Organ Co., the 3 manual & pedal organ of 66 stops was installed behind the earlier pipe facades, and included an Echo division which spoke through grates in the floor. This organ served the congregation for more than 50 years when another merger and name change would facilitate a new instrument once again. The Greenridge Presbyterian Church had purchased a new organ by Hermann Schlicker in 1961, and when they merged with Westminster to form Covenant Presbyterian, it was decided that the Schlicker would make the move as well. Keeping some of the finer stops of the Austin organ, but removing the pipe facades, the ‘new’ organ was installed in 1981.
By 2011, the Schlicker organ was showing signs of age: the console was large and unyielding to the advances in modern organ design; the Swell Box mechanism no longer functioned and was far from expressive; some pipe work had even started to collapse upon itself. A contract for a new organ was signed with the Patrick J. Murphy Organ Co., who was challenged to keep the best of the existing instrument, but also to update its tonal palette and its functionality. The older Austin stops were returned to their original voicing – the thinner reeds of 1961 were replaced with reeds of deeper tones and color – an enlarged and more expressive Swell Box was installed – the tonal scheme of the entire organ was filled out with new stops – functioning pipe facades were installed, harkening back to the original 1904 installation – and a new state-of-the-art console was designed to control the entire organ. The new organ was installed throughout the summer of 2013 and the instrument was formally dedicated on November 2, 2013.
The three- manual (keyboards) and pedal instrument has just under 4,000 pipes ranging from the size of a pencil to 16 feet in length – 59 ranks (sets of pipes) – the organ specification boasts 3 32-foot digital pedal voices – the low-profile console is designed to be easily movable across the chancel which allows for flexible performance & worship configurations.