I was a Somerville House boarder in 1941. The “C of E” girls, all dressed in white, wended their way to St Andrew’s morning service each Sunday. I was very impressed with the large church, the choir and the music of the “built-in” organ. Coming as I did from an outback environment (Winton, Cloncurry, Julia Creek) and although my family were good C of Es, such were new experiences for me. Although I remember few details, my favourable impressions have remained with me over these 65 years. (Ann Shevill, nee Brabazon)
The organ was always said to be a very good and fairly large organ. It was no doubt part of the reason why St Andrew’s was one of Brisbane’s most popular churches for weddings – I remember seven on one particular Saturday during the 1950s. From the rectory we often used to hear the Bridal March from Wagner’s Lohengrin at the beginning of a wedding, and Mendelssohn’s Wedding March from Midsummer Night’s Dream at the end – both mandatory in those days.
(Rodney Wetherell, son of the Revd E.W. Wetherell, Rector 1951-1961)
During a wedding in St Andrew’s in the 1950s, at the appropriate moment when the rings were to be given, the box containing them could not be opened. The groomsmen, the groom and the rector tried in vain to open it. At this anxious moment, the rector approached Ted Salisbury, the organist at the time. Ted calmly reached for the screwdriver amongst a few tools he kept in the organ stool, and saved the day. The wedding proceeded without further hitch. (Dr Reg Magee)
The organist right through our father’s incumbency was Edward Salisbury, whom we believed was a fine, if conventional, organist. If he was away, the organ was played by Eva F. Lang, a parishioner and piano teacher who lived in Vulture Street opposite the rectory.
A notable visitor to the parish on at least two occasions was Dr Gerald Knight of the Royal School of Church Music in Croydon, London, who toured Australia giving advice on church music. I recall he spoke well of the St Andrew’s choir (when not all were impressed by it!) and of our organ. (Rodney Wetherell)
Mr Ayscough was Mr Salisbury’s locum. He appeared about once a month. Mr Ayscough must have been in his 80s and gave a misleading impression of extreme fragility. I once thought that, if one were to tap him lightly on the head with a small hammer, he would break up into hundreds of splinters.
Actually this ancient-looking, thin bony man had an indestructible determination. His forte was the swell pedal, and he really brought that organ’s romantic qualities to life. Quite unlike Mr Salisbury’s controlled purity and rather classicist restraint.
I used to go down to hear Ayscough playing his favourites. One was O Jesus I have promised, which he swelled up to sound like this:
O Jesus I HAVE PROMISED (loud)
To serve Thee TO THE END (soft)
Lord be forever NEAR ME (very loud)
My Master and MY FRIEND (deafening)
(David Wetherell, son of the Revd E.W. Wetherell and brother of Rodney)
I was a Somerville House boarder in 1956-1959. My memories of St Andrew’s include the choir – the buxom ladies in their robes – and the Revd E.W. Wetherell and the way he spoke during the services – he always made it personal and pertinent. The new hanging lights were hung during my time there, and I recall the blue-grey organ pipes. Coming from the country where the minister would have a little service on the verandah of our home (a property near Charleville), the service at St Andrew’s was quite a revelation.
I was married at St Andrew’s in 1964, aged 20, with the Revd W.F. Carter officiating. The wedding was mainly organised by my mother, as was the practice of the day. (Mary Wade)
Every Monday morning during school term, Dad took a service for the C of E pupils of State High School, just across Ernest Street from the church. Mr Salisbury would not have come in especially for this service, but Dad used to have at least one hymn, accompanying it himself on the organ.
The Revd Evan Wetherell
My memories of St Andrew’s during the 1960s include the distinctive, beautiful sound of the organ – the vox angelica blew me away, the hundreds of weddings, and the regular radio broadcasts on the ABC (Radio Australia), 4KQ and 4BC. (Ian McKinley, Organist 1962-1975)
Every organist will agree that their particular pipe organ has a personality of its own and we often refer to the instrument as “it” or even “she”, but never a “he”.
(Tom Aitken, Organist 1975-1992)
Tom Aitken, organist and choirmaster, would slip in “Happy Birthday” to an organ piece when someone in the choir had a birthday. (Dorothy Hampson)
I remember six weddings on one Saturday, from midday to 6.00 pm – a major feat of timing for both brides and car parking.
On one occasion one of the local dignitaries’ daughters was to be married. At the discussion as to the music for the ceremony, the father put in a special request. His daughter’s favourite piece of music, and the music to which she wished to enter the church was The Teddy Bear’s Picnic. My immediate reaction was the “the organ” couldn’t play that particular masterpiece. The father then asked, “Is it too difficult?” The response, “Yes”, ended that particular negotiation.
During one of my many sabbaticals from St Andrew’s, major renovations (not unusual for St Andrew’s) were taking place in the Blue Room. The relieving organist came in to put in some practice time and switched on the organ, not being aware that, as part of the downstairs workings, the walls were being sandblasted. Unfortunately, the organ sucks its air supply from the Blue Room – in this instance, complete with thousands of dust particles. Ouch!! The organ loved it, especially the reeds. Yet another fine mess for the wardens… (Tom Aitken)