By LARRY PHILLIPS
• Leader & Times
Near the ending of every hymn at the Shriving Servies at St. Peter and St. Paul Parish Church in Olney, the deepness and richness of the church’s massive organ literally vibrates the air throughout the glorious church, which was completed in 1325. Churchgoers can actually feel the vibrations throughout their bodies.
The music is created by one man who sits at a keyboard and controls huge organ. He looks small compared to the massive piece of equipment.
John Witchell has been playing that organ for four years, even though he doesn’t hail from Olney.
“I live in a village about 20 miles away called Willington – a very small village,” Witchell said. “I used to play organ in Winslow.”
When asked what it’s like to play such an impressive machine, Witchell said, “It’s lovely, it’s a beautiful organ.”
He went on to explain it’s a Binz organ made in 1900.
“It makes a very good sound,” he said. “It was built for the church.
“They restored it about eight or nine years ago,” he continued. “But when they restored it, they were very concerned to make sure they restored it back to its original condition.
“They haven’t added anything,” Witchell said. “There have been no modern effect actions, so everything – including the actions – is exactly like it was built when it was first built, which is nice.
“It’s got no extra gadgets,” he added.
As one hears Witchell start and finish the John Newton hymn “Amazing Grace,” it’s hard not to be emotionally affected by the sounds filling the massive old church.
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