Our History: Music

Music has long been an integral part of worship at St. Michaelís. The Reverend Peter Bours (1753-1762), a Harvard graduate and fervent advocate of ďhigh churchmanship,Ē acquired the first organ in 1754 and established church music as a fundamental part of the liturgy. Later, rector Thomas Fitch Oliver (1786-1791) was the first to establish a church choir and to institute chants such as the Venite, the Te Deum, and the Nunc Dimittis. In fact, on Christmas day 1787, the St. Michaelís choir sang a rendition of the Venite thought to be the first instance of chanting in the newly formed United States.

Under Robert Parker (1922-1925), the music at St. Michaelís flourished with the addition of a notable organist, Alexander Cleary. Under Mr. Clearyís excellent tutelage, the St. Michaelís boys choir became known as one the finest in all New England. Later, a Church School Band program was launched, providing 32 boys with a free musical education, and providing the town with a popular resource for various functions and celebrations.

The present tracker organ dates from 1974, and, although it is an entirely new instrument, it is housed in the restored case from the 1833 Hook organ. This instrument, by the late C.B. Fisk of Gloucester, was designed to sound like its eighteenth-century predecessors but with added stops for playing a wider range of French organ music as well. The organís quality and tone, heard regularly in concert performances, are admired throughout Bostonís North Shore.


Learn more about St. Michaelís history:

Surrounding Buildings
A Revere Bell
St. Michael’s Church Architecture and Chronology
Stained Glass Windows
Archives and Preservation
St. Michael’s Crypt & Churchyard
Women at St. Michael’s
Partial List of Treasures
St. Michael’s Rectors
Histories of St. Michael’s Available Online

back to Our History page

last update 02/15/2014