Sacred Music at Saint Stanislaus

Parish Choir

The Parish Choir is a mixed voice (men and women) volunteer choir open to anybody above the age of 14 years old. The Parish Choir sings the 11:00 AM Mass each Sunday and rehearses each Wednesday 7:00-8:00 PM. Primary music focus of the Parish Choir is Gregorian chant, choral motets and Mass settings, and hymnody. Previous experience and/or ability to read music is appreciated, but not required.

Men's Schola

The Men’s Schola focuses strongly on chant, learning the intricacies of Gregorian notation and chant interpretation. Men’s Schola is open to all men of the parish, and it is expected that all members sing regularly in the Parish Choir, including Wednesday rehearsal and 11:00 AM Mass on Sunday. The Men’s Schola schedules additional rehearsals sporadically. The Men’s Schola sings as a separate group for various Holy Days and Feasts through the year.

Children's Choirs - Senior Choristers & Junior Choristers

The Junior Choristers program is open to male and female singers approximately 7 years old through approximately 14 years old (or until a male’s voice drops – at which point they should sing with the Parish Choir/Men’s Schola). The Junior Choristers meet for rehearsal/class each Wednesday 7:00-8:00 PM, where they focus on learning the basics of reading music (modern notation and chant notation), learn the most common music of the Church (Mass responses, common Mass Ordinaries, chant hymns), and develop healthy singing technique. The Junior Choristers sing at the Sunday 11:00 AM approximately once per month.

The Senior Choristers program is open to female singers 14 years old through the end of high school, and it is desired that Senior Choristers have a basic understanding of musical notation (which would have been learned as Junior Choristers). The Senior Choristers rehearse as a group each Wednesday 6:30-7:00 PM, and then remain in rehearsal 7:00-8:00 PM with the Parish Choir. The Senior Choristers act as a dedicated treble (1st soprano) section of the Parish Choir, and sing together with the Parish Choir at all of their Masses.

Men's Schola

The Men’s Schola focuses strongly on chant, learning the intricacies of Gregorian notation and chant interpretation. Men’s Schola is open to all men of the parish, and it is expected that all members sing regularly in the Parish Choir, including Wednesday rehearsal and 11:00 AM Mass on Sunday. The Men’s Schola schedules additional rehearsals sporadically. The Men’s Schola sings as a separate group for various Holy Days and Feasts through the year.

The Pipe Organ

St. Stanislaus is blessed with a very fine mid-to-late-19th century pipe organ of unknown origins. Traits of our organ’s construction make clear that it was likely built around 1870 for another church, and later moved here to St. Stanislaus. Most agree that our organ was installed in 1950 by the Rostron Kershaw Organ Company of Chelmsford, MA as there was a vague contract with this company listing “a pipe organ prepared for St. Stanislaus Church”. It seems that Kershaw rebuilt a nearly century old instrument, though we still cannot be certain where it originally came from. It is clear that whoever the original builder of our organ was, they were very fine craftsmen. The pipework is beautifully constructed and exquisitely voiced. We hope to one day uncover who the mystery builder was, so as to give them due credit!

Two curious pieces of evidence in our search for the original 19th century builder of our organ:

  • One Sunday in Lent of 2019, the nameplate of 19th century Boston organ builder William Stevens showed up on our organ console. It was not there on Saturday afternoon, and nobody has been able to tell where it came from or how it came to be on the organ console. There seems to be little physical evidence that our organ was originally a William Stevens instrument, making this even more curious.

  • The low C pipe of the 4’ Octave in our organ is engraved “Nashua”, and many have said the script looks older than 1950. So perhaps our organ was originally built for another church in Nashua before being moved here in 1950.

Organ Restoration

Though our pipe organ is a fine instrument, it is sadly in very poor mechanical condition. Pipe organs use pressurized air to produce sound as it flows through pipes. Our pipe organ’s mechanism is what organ builders call “electro-pneumatic action”, meaning that the process that sends air into the pipes involves both electrical signals and pneumatic devices to make the organ work. Both the electrical and pneumatic components of our organ are far beyond their expected lifespan.

Since being installed in 1950, our organ has had no restorative work and very minimal maintenance. The 1950 electrical components are very unreliable, and are a borderline fire hazard. Many of the electronic controls at the organ console no longer function at all. The pneumatic mechanisms of the organ are various leather-covered valves, pouches, and reservoirs, which are barely functioning on borrowed time. Leather is a perishable material that dries, cracks, and tears with ages. All of the leather mechanism in our organ is from 1950, and all of it is rapidly failing.

Though the 1,173 pipes in our organ were beautifully constructed, they are choked with 71 years of various dust, debris, and plaster, and many are in need of repairs. Between the mechanical issues with the organ and the current condition of the pipework, our organ has many notes that do not speak at all, and many more that struggle to speak or stay in tune.

Our pipe organ, after 71 years of use and little maintenance, is long overdue for a thorough rebuild. The goal of the rebuild would not only be to make what we have work, but also to make it more serviceable for its next 100 years of life. After a thorough rebuilding project, the pipe organ at St. Stanislaus would be one of the finest instruments in New England. This is a major investment into the life of the Parish, ensuring that the voice of our church is able to provide beautiful music for the glory of God for generations to come.

For further information regarding the organ or donations for its restoration, please contact out Director of Sacred Music, Eric Dolch.