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Christ Church Christiana Hundred
Independent Voices: 12
Christ Church Christiana Hundred, Wilmington, Delaware, was founded as an Episcopal congregation in 1848. In 1851 a cornerstone was laid for the church building, and the first service was held in it on May 4, 1856. One hundred years later, in the 1950’s, when the congregation swelled with children and youth, a new Parish House was constructed, including The Chapel of the Christ Child for children’s worship. The chapel was crafted as a delight to the eye, with pews and choir stalls sized a bit smaller, but in similar fashion to the “big church.” Its beauty is found in the wood carvings of native flora and fauna, in the Scandinavian styled ceiling, and in the beautiful triptych of the Christ child, for whom the chapel is named. With initial plans made in 2018, the chapel has been carefully restored and renewed. One part of the plan was to create a small pipe organ in the gallery in the way that had been initially envisioned. After six months of conversations and creative imagining with three highly regarded organ builders, Christ Church selected C. B. Fisk’s design for the new chapel organ.
The Fisk process, first and foremost is one of listening to our client’s intentions and, secondly, one of genuine collaboration. Tonal design is typically explored and developed over several months and involves detailed and comprehensive conversations with the church musicians. At Christ Church Christiana, we were challenged by Music Director Bruce Barber to design an instrument whose sounds were not only appropriate to the Chapel of the Christ Child, but that were also innovative and unique in the organ world. Together, we arrived at an imaginative coupling of early Italian tonal elements, including very low 1¾” wind pressure, accessed via a sensitive, elegant mechanical key action and the instrument’s distinctive stop control system, known as wechsel schliefen, whereby any stop can be assigned to either manual. This system offers the organist tremendous flexibility in terms of registrational options, all within the context of a limited number of stops.
To accomplish the visual design, our friends at Christ Church enjoyed in-depth involvement, guided by Charles Nazarian, Fisk visual designer, in the creation of a suitable and distinguished case. The Organ Project Team, led by The Rev. Ruth Beresford, rector, and Bruce Barber, were both conscientious and communicative, and they made solid and wise decisions all along the way. Of particular note are the polychromed and gilded carvings in the façade by Fisk wood carver Morgan Faulds Pike, a native of Wilmington.
Mechanical Key Action
Mechanical Stop Action, with wechsel schleifen on Manuals
Manual key compass, 54 notes, CC-f3
Pedal key compass, 30 notes, CC-f
Wind Pressure 45mm
Fisk II Temperament
Manual II to Manual I
Manual I to Pedal
Manual II to Pedal
Manual II to Pedal Super