In colonial times Guyana brought in three types of church organ

Dear Editor,

Along with the late Donald Jones, Reggie Dolphin and others, I was once one of the local technicians who used to maintain the Reed organs which came into this country. I thought readers might be interested to learn about the three types of organ which were imported here.

The first was the Pipe Organ, which is referred to as the King of all instruments and has a long history with many Christian Churches here, being used in the Anglican, Catholic and the Scots Churches. This instrument, of different sizes, was placed in many churches and homes and was used for various functions as well as worship.

Since Guyana was attached to the British, technicians used to come from England to carry out the repairs and tuning of these instruments. The cost of repairs and maintenance of these organs always had to be taken into consideration.

The congregation was very accustomed to the pipe organ. The only organ of this type which still stands in Guyana is in St George’s Cathedral. I was privileged to listen to many organists play this instrument such as Mr Morris Bowen, Ms Daphne Scott, Ms Jennifer Bates and others. They were well-trained organists. Prince Charles, some years ago, visited Guyana and listened to that organ play.

The second was the Reed Organ, which came in different sizes but was never as large as a Pipe Organ. Some Reed Organs are so small that they can fit in the trunk of a motor car. A Reed Organ can provide a good service to the community and is sometimes called a Harmonium. They carry two pedals from which you pump air into the bellows. In recent times a motor was used to supply the air.

Within the Indian community a small Harmonium was played, whereby one hand was used to pump air into the bellows and the other to play the tune.

The third type of organ which came here was the Hammond Organ, which was electric and was used in many churches. These organs were maintained by Bookers’ technicians, but as time went by there were problems in finding parts and technicians to maintain them. Today many churches have them but they are not functioning because of missing or damaged parts which are not manufactured any more.

Yours faithfully,

Laurie Greenidge

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