If the organ is the “King of Instruments”, I propose the harp is it’s Queen. The final performance in our series of Seven Sundays Celebrating Music in Worship was beautifully executed by Ms Erin Hill. With voice and harp, she filled our sanctuary with haunting and sometimes playful melodies ranging from the Irish air My Lagan Love, to Paul McCartney’s Silly Love Songs, which she sang in response to the Pastor’s sermon. She introduced our children to her harp and demonstrated different ways to play “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” – transforming the Old Dutch into a music box.
The Old Dutch Church is an acoustic marvel – a hospitable hostess for our musical guests. Our crowning glory is the Noack Tracker Organ that dominates the upper gallery. The organ, an enduring remembrance of the ministry of the Rev. Gerald Vander Hart and his wife Barbara, was funded through the generosity of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Newman, with additional funds from church members and friends. The main case of the organ was constructed by church member William E. Orser III. In 1997, Fritz Noack of Georgetown, MA contracted with August Laukhuff in Germany to build the wind chests and Timothy Fink of Port Chester, NY, to complete the organ. For our 325th anniversary, which coincided with the 325th anniversary of the birth of Johann Sebastian Bach, Kent Tritle, current Director of Music and organist at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, came up to Sleepy Hollow and presented a program which paid homage to Bach and included the works of Buxtehude, Walther, and Sweelinck. All of these works were played on this organ modeled after instruments that would have been familiar to these great composers. In the liner notes for the concert CD recorded and produced by our Music Director, Jeremy Goldsmith, it is noted:
“In the Dutch Reformed churches in the Netherlands, two things often stand out – a stately pulpit with a sound board and a significant pipe organ. In the Old Dutch Church of Sleepy Hollow, a pulpit and sound board have dominated the interior for most of its 300-plus years, but for most of that time, there was no pipe organ. For much of the twentieth century, a parlor organ in the front had to serve.”
Our church is indebted to the ministry of the Vander Harts, which left a lasting imprint on the spiritual life of our community by celebrating the importance of music in worship. We remember this heritage every summer with seven special Sundays when our guest musicians, with voice and instrument remind us of our sacred calling to “Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands.”(Psalm 100:1-2)