Panic time

Today I was the substitute organist at Our Redeemer Lutheran Church, filling in for Karl Bachman. I came to the church on Friday to familiarize myself with the organ and to set up my pistons. As you know from a previous post, I more or less set up the pistons the same way, no matter what instrument I’m playing. That means I know that when I press  General 2, I will have foundations; General 3, I set the Principal Chorus; General 4, I’ll have a Trumpet Solo, and so forth.

I got to the church this morning about 8:20 am, well in advance of the 9:00 am service to pick up a Sunday bulletin and to check my registrations. I pushed a piston and started warming up on my prelude when the trumpeter walked in and introduced himself. And then the unthinkable happened. I pushed the Cancel button and realized that all the pistons had frozen up! That means that no matter what I pushed, nothing happened, even the Cancel button. It meant that I would no longer have my combinations available with “the touch of a button.”

“Oh, this has happened before when the humidity is high,” he told me.

This was the culprit!

This was the culprit!

I’ve had similar experiences with the Allen organ at Iolani School, and when the pistons freeze up, it means that one of the buttons is “stuck” in. I tried pulling out, manually, all the General pistons from 1 to 10 to no avail. So I figured I would just have to pull the stops by hand. You may remember that I programmed Komm, Heiliger Geist from the Great Eighteen Chorales as the prelude, and as I was feeling anxious, my fingers started slippin’ and slidin’ all over those plastic Allen keys. However I held on for dear life, and gave a creditable performance.  I had gotten the opening hymn ready to play right afterwards, but in my state of anxiety, I had the hymnbook turned to the Hymn of the Day (Komm, Gott Schöpfer) instead of the Opening Hymn. Luckily they were in the same key of F and just one page apart, so the poor congregation heard me play the wrong hymn as the introduction, but the right hymn when everyone joined in. (Dear me!)

During the sermon, I turned the organ off and tried to remember the sequence of events and the buttons I had pushed since coming in this morning. And then I discovered the culprit! It was the Cancel piston that was stuck in! As soon as I manually pulled it out, all my pistons were functional again, and the rest of the service was without incident.

A former student of mine from nearly 40 years ago, Christobel Sanders, greeted me after the service, as well as Richard Lachmann, whose daughter Jaime I taught almost 20 years ago. (Yikes, time flies!)

I must say that the welcome to me as printed in the bulletin was just about the nicest I’ve ever had, so I’ll reprint it here. (I have a feeling that Karl Bachman was responsible!)

GUEST ORGANIST today is Katherine Crosier in her first appearance at Our Redeemer Lutheran Church. Recently retired from 35 years as organist at the Lutheran Church of Honolulu she has been performing, promoting, and teaching organ in Hawaii for her whole adult life. We are blessed to have Kathy us today and we are especially thankful that the prelude and postlude are two selections from her upcoming Bach Master Works Concerts.

Pastor Carney also gave me a special introduction at the end of the service and invited everyone to come to my upcoming Bach concerts, which were also described in detail in the bulletin:

TWO SPECIAL ORGAN CONCERTS will be given on two Sunday afternoons, August 18 and 25 at 2:00 p.m. at the Lutheran Church of Honolulu, 1730 Punahou Street. In these two concerts our good friend Katherine Crosier will present the entire Great Eighteen Chorales (sometimes called the “Leipzig Chorales”) of Johann Sebastian Bach. These works represent Bach at his most mature musicianship. They treat many of our favorite hymns as Lutherans, which will be sung by a special choir put together for the occasion. The time is early afternoon to enable everyone to attend, especially those who do not like to drive at night. The concerts are given in a two-part mini-series, because to do the “whole load” in one afternoon would exhaust both performer and listener. For more information and to purchase tickets, go to

Thank you, Our Redeemer Lutheran Church!

About Katherine Crosier

In addition to playing the organ I am interested in documenting life's special moments through journaling, scrapbooking, photography and slideshow production. My family just groans.
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