While most of the people in my tour group went on a whale watching cruise, I opted to stay in town to visit the Hallgrims Church. Hallgrimur Pétursson is the best known sacred poet of Iceland, born in 1614 and died in 1674. He is most famous for his Hymns of the Passion, a series of 50 meditations on the martyrdom of Christ.
Hallgrimskirkja, the Church of Hallgrimur, is both a national monument and a parish church with 7000 members. It is part of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Iceland, uniting Lutheran and Anglican churches of northwest Europe. The church is served by 2 priests, youth coordinator, choirmaster and organist. It is the largest church in the country with a tower that is 73 meters high.
When I visited the church this morning an organist was practicing. I later went closer to the console to take pictures. This is an organ built by Klais of Bonn, Germany. It has four manuals, 72 ranks and 5,275 pipes, and weighs 25 tons.
I liked the sign by the console: Please do not interrupt the organist. I can’t tell you how many people have come up and started talking to me while I was playing! In the hour or so that I was in the church, hundreds of tourists walked by the organ console, which is in the back of the church down on the floor.
Supposedly also you can “buy a pipe” and receive a certificate saying that you “own” that pipe. (Sound familiar?) My attention was drawn to the display asking for donations to clean the organ—apparently this is a worldwide problem! The cleaning of the organ took place in 2012, so I guess they are still paying for it.
Of course, I was also drawn to the numerous posters around the church, advertising their organ recital series. I have met the two American organists who are performing—Katelyn Emerson will be playing this weekend and Douglas Cleveland will perform at the end of the month. Katelyn texted me about possibly meeting, having read my blog post about being in Iceland, but we unfortunately missed each other by only a few minutes, trying to possibly meet at the Blue Lagoon. You may remember that I last saw her at the Church of the Advent in Boston, where she has been named Assistant to Mark Dwyer. You might go back to read my post, The Young Like the Old (Music) to find out that she is a friend of Joey Fala.
Congratulations are also in order because Katelyn just won the NYACOP—the American Guild of Organists National Young Artists Competition in Organ Playing! Woo hoo!