The Great Pipe Organ and Ministry of Music
Music plays an important part of our Worship Services. We are blessed to have Rohit Sailas as our Music Director and our Church Organist. Rohit is an incredibly talented musician, as well as playing a number of other instruments, he also directs the singing group and is supportive of finding opportunities for members of the congregation to share their musical talents.
Everyone is welcome to join the congregational singing, as you don’t have to be a trained singer - just someone who enjoys singing! If you play a musical instrument - perhaps you’d like to join the instrumental group which supports our music in worship when required. It is preferable that you are able to sight read music at least a little!
Hymn selection covers from early Methodist (Wesley) to contemporary hymns.
From 1850, Miss Sutton played the Harmonium at the Ann St Wesleyan Methodist Church in Williamstown. The growing congregation needed more space and sold that building, and the congregation were the foundation members of the new church on Electra St built in 1876.
To add musical excellence, the organ was built in 1893 by the distinguished Melbourne organ-building firm of Fincham & Hobday. One of the oldest Australian companies, the Fincham firm was established in 1862 by George ‘Grandfather’ Fincham (1828 – 1910) following his emigration from London to Melbourne in 1852. Over its history, the firm has been responsible for building more than 300 new organs, including one of the world’s biggest at the Royal Exhibition Buildings Melbourne, together with many rebuilding’s and restorations. From 1889 until 1897 Arthur Hobday was a partner in the firm, who organs are known for their superior quality and splendid romantic tone.
Designed and supervised by Mr A Hick a new organ loft was built in 1891 to house the new Fincham and Hobday pipe organ. With a weight of over 3 tonnes, the great pipe organ was sited in the new loft at the Church for the cost of £750 pounds and was installed in 1893. The organ was a gift to the church from Mr Edwin Gaunt.
Over 100 years of history here
1876 Methodist Church & manse constructed. Architects: Crouch & Wilson
1890 An organ of excellence was needed
1893 Fincham &Hobday built the organ and 330 people attended a dedication concert
1920’s Mr Roy Rolley, a Williamstown painter restored stencilling & guilding of pipes
1950’s Two choirs in the lofts sang at services
1960’s Sun Aria Competitions held at the church to superb acoustics & accompaniment
1896 Extensive restoration carried out. Mixture Stop added to Great Organ
1991 The National Trust of Australia (Victoria) classified the organ. Their statement of Significance is as follows.
A two-manual organ of 20 stops built in 1893 by Fincham & Hobday and remaining largely unaltered apart from the addition
of a Mixture stop in the 1980’s.
The instrument is notable for its general tonal scheme, the excellence case containing pipes diapered in a striking manner
These working pipes project the Great Open Diapason voices centrally.
1993 Organ Centenary Concert by Dr John Atwell with 1893 performance pieces. with some music from the original dedication concert in 1893.
These included; The Old Hundredth, The Heavens are telling and Lift up your Heads.
1998 Public Concert by Thomas Heywood in association with the Victorian State Organ Concerts Program.
The organ is well-sited high in the front loft which allows the sound of the instrument to be heard in unison by the organist, choirs and congregation.
- Most notable Fincham & Hobday organ in such original condition in Melbourne's Western suburbs
- Rare visual co-ordination of the church interior architecture with the organ design & siting, central focus and profiled floor.
- Excellent acoustics design of theatre interior & organ combination, direct focus, profiled floor & reflective timber panelling.
- The tonal scheme & excellent voicing of the specification (well-endowed with flute stops), the construction and voicing adjustments.
- Stacked end to end the 1,124 pipes would stand over 150 stories high, more than three times higher than the great pyramid of Cheops.
- Original constructions took less than 12 months.
- 1,000 working hours (25 forty hours weeks) were needed to voice initially the pipes
- The weight of the complete organ is three tons equal to that of the world’s heaviest land mammal: the Indian elephant.
The Electra St UCA Church organ contains numerous recorder-like pipes which are filled with wind from the bellows and played by means of piano-like keys of ivory and ebony, or foot pedals which are of wrought iron-double action. It consists of 124 pipes and is a two-manual and pedal instrument with tracker action. The swell box with its inner and outer linings packed with sawdust has its front fitted with F and H non-shrinking shutters, the whole being capable of an effective crescendo. The soundboards are of the best well-seasoned walnut, mahogany and pine.
The two-manuals produce 56 notes each, the pedals produce 30 notes and 21 speaking stops and;
Clarinet 8 Piccolo 2
Mixture 2 Cornopean 8
Fifteenth 2 Oboe 8
Harmonic-Flute 4 Flute 4
Principal 4 Octave 4
Twelfth 3 Celeste 8
Dulciana 8 Open Diapason 8
Claribel 8 Gedackt 8
Open Diapason 8 Gamba 8
Double Diapason 16
Open Diapason 16
Since 1850, our church organists have played a key role in the life of our church community whether that be in playing the Great Pipe Organ, conducting large church choirs, organising community concerts, supporting fundraising efforts, encouraging and teaching while sharing the passion of music (with the love and power of faith based lyrics) with others.
It has always been a great privilege to be appointed as the church organist and we are grateful and thankful to Rohit for his service for many years to our church through his music talents. He joins the ranks of faithful congregational members appointed since 1850.
To see the full list of our organists since 1850, click here
We give thanks to the many people who have contributed to our Music Ministry.
We are grateful to Mrs Betsy Barrett for her inspiration and commitment to raising sufficient funds for the Baby Grand Piano, her years of playing the organ, leading the choirs and for the gift of her personal piano.
We are grateful to Miss Barbara Howell (photo below) a congregational member for 65 years who was an enthusiastic pianist and organist. Her generous bequest will be used in part for the organ maintenance.