All posts by Terry Mello

Music at St. Thomas'

Music at St. Thomas’

St. Thomas’ Choir

The music program has always been a pride of the parish. Our 50-rank Schantz organ was installed in 1992. The adult choir, numbering around 15 regular members, is a dedicated group of singers, who have worked together for many years. We seek opportunities to involve children and youth in our music program, through a youth choir or through special events within the context of our current music program. Music tends to be from the classic Anglican liturgical repertory, with service music also tending to the older and more orthodox forms, including “Wonder Love and Praise” and service music from the Hymnal. In other words, St. Thomas’ has held to conservative musical expression, but is making an effort to broaden its traditions.

Minister of Music

Jane M. Schroeder, S.M.M.


The first pipe organ in the present St. Thomas’ Church building was a three-manual Austin, one of a number of instruments donated to churches by the Curtis family in the 1930’s. By the 1970’s, during the rectorship of the late J. F. Titus Oates, this organ had fallen into disrepair and the decision was made to replace it with a (then) state-of-the-art three-manual Rodgers electronic.

Unfortunately, electronic organ technology moved very fast and very far over the next years. The Rodgers was essentially a one-off style of instrument, built immediately before the advent of digital electronics.

When it ultimately needed maintenance and repair work it was found that the proper parts were unavailable, and that the builder even lacked a shop manual. It did, however, hold together and remain playable until one fateful day when incumbent organist Jerry Koontz was preparing to accompany a Brahms concert to be conducted by the current minister of music at St. Thomas’. The organ breathed its last while Jerry was checking his registrations, and the entire affair was at the last minute moved to the Congregational Church.

This untoward event having stirred considerable interest, the decision was then made to form an organ committee and to engage John Doney as professional consultant. The committee heard and inspected numerous representative instruments from several builders, and ultimately agreed with John Doney’s advice to contract with the Schantz company, a family-owned Ohio business of long standing and high reputation.

Many individuals, families, and foundations contributed memorial donations to the major fund-raising effort that was required, and the present instrument was installed and voiced under the personal direction of Burton Tidwell, the tonal director of Schantz, in the late winter and spring of 1992. The dedicatory recital was given later in the year by Dr. John Weaver of the Curtis Institute.

Specifications of the Organ

Schantz Organ Company, Orrville, Ohio. Installed 1992

  • Great (Manual II) 61 Notes
  • OCTAVE 4’
  • Super Octave 2’ (from Fourniture)
  • Fourniture IV ranks
  • SHARFF III ranks
  • Gemshorn 16’ (from Gemshorn 8’)
  • Bourdon 16’ (from Bourdon 8’)
  • BOURDON 8’
  • VIOLA CELESTE 8’ (Tenor C)
  • Spillflöte 2’ (from Bourdon 8’)
  • PLEIN JEU IV ranks
  • Fagot 16’ (from Fagot 8’)
  • Fagot 8’
  • Fagot 4’ (from Fagot 8’)
  • GEDACKT 8’
  • GEIGEN 4’
  • Blockflüte 2’ (from Gedackt)
  • CYMBEL III ranks
  • LARIGOT 13/3
  • FLAUTO DOLCE 8’ (in chapel)
  • FLAUTO DOLCE CELESTE 8’ (in chapel)
  • Bourdon 32’ (electronic)
  • Lieblich Bourdon 32’ (electronic)
  • OCTAVE 8’
  • MIXTURE IV ranks
  • POSAUNE 16’
  • Posaune 8’ (from Posaune 16’)
  • Posaune 4’ (from Posaune 16’)
  • Fagot 16’ (from Swell)
  • Fagot 8’ (from Swell)
  • Gemshorn 16’ (from Great)
  • Gemshorn 8’ (from Great)
  • Rohrbourdon 16’ (from Swell)
  • Bourdon 8’ (from Swell)
  • Rohrflüte 4’ (from Great)

There are standard intramanual and intermanual suboctave, superoctave and unison couplers. An additional set of couplers together with the ‘unison offs’ allows the transfer of the Great to Manual I and the Choir to either Manual II or III.

There are ten general combination pistons (duplicated by toe studs), and six divisional pistons for each division. The Swell and Choir divisions are under expression. Accessories include a crescendo pedal, a sforzando piston and toe stud, and a reversible piston for the prepared-for Zimbelstern.

Thanks to a gift, we have been able to upgrade the combination action and there are now thirty-two levels of memory.

Parish Profile


St. Thomas’ Episcopal Church is a Christian community characterized by grace, joy, and generosity of spirit. Our buildings, old and new, represent our exquisitely rich heritage of prayer, worship, music and outreach, as well as our commitment to live in the future with hopefulness, courage and especially love. We welcome you to share the journey with us.

We offer two Sunday services: a traditional Rite I Eucharist at 7:30 am, the more contemporary Rite II Eucharist at 9:30 am, and during the summer and fall months, a Vesper Communion just as the weekend is winding down, at 5:00 pm. All are welcome and child care is available at the two morning services.

On Wednesday we have a Holy Eucharist with Anointing at 9:30 pm, followed by a social hour and then a lively Bible study. These services take place in our intimate Chapel, adjacent to our church.


St. Thomas’ parish was founded in 1855. The present church building was completed in 1924 from plans by the Portland architect E. Leander Higgins, following the English Gothic model as advocated by Ralph Adams Cram.

The parish hall was completed two years later, and the tower and chapel in 1930. In 2007 the Cloister Wing was built and the Rectory converted to office space.

The Windows

The stained glass windows were made as a teaching series by the English firm Heaton, Butler and Bayne. The windows on the left side of the nave show the life of Jesus from birth to trial before Pilate. On the right are scenes from the growth of the church from the Resurrection to the arrival of the Episcopal Church in America.

Over the Altar is Christ in Majesty and at the end of the nave is the Sermon on the Mount with scenes of Christ’s ministry.

Inside the church

The reredos above the altar has a carving of the Confession of St. Thomas, flanked by two scenes from the Emmaus story. The chapel reredos has Christ calming the waters. These were done by Laudili Lang of Oberammergau.

In the choir is a 50-rank Schantz organ installed in 1992. In the tower is a “peal” of eleven bronze bells.

The Cloister and Rectory

In the cloister is the Dodge Memorial Garden surrounding the statue of St. Thomas dedicated to former rector Ralph Hayden. The statue was made in 1961 by Eleanor M. Mellon.

The rectory was built around 1810 by Benjamin Cushing. When the Cloister Wing was built the upper floor was converted to a rental apartment.

A Maine Benedicite

Composed for the openings of the Maine State Senate, June 2, 2009
By the Rev. John W. Rafter
St. Thomas’ Episcopal Church, Camden

O all ye works of the Lord, bless ye the Lord;
Praise him and magnify him forever.

Brilliant-lighted day and dark, enfolding night;
Running sap and clinging mud;
Summer sky and autumn leaf;
Bless ye the Lord.

Island of granite and meadow of grass;
Flooding river and shimmering lake;
Berry-covered mountain and organic farm;
Bless ye the Lord.

Crying loon and scolding crow;
Diving hawk and wheeling gull;
Majestic moose and Belted Galloway;
Bless ye the Lord.

Mill-town and city and unemployed worker;
Wilderness and village and summer hiker;
Resident of Mexico and China and Peru;
Bless ye the Lord.

Merchant and tourist;
Artist and laborer;
Lobsterman and student;
Bless ye the Lord.

Newly-arrived immigrant and native-born Mainer;
Writer of laws and worker for justice;
All people in all places;
Bless ye the Lord.

O all ye works of the Lord, bless ye the Lord;
Praise him and magnify him forever.

St Thomas’ Sunday School and Youth Programs

Welcome, St. Thomas offers nursery care, Sunday School, and programs for youth.

Nursery and childcare for those 4 and under is available during our 9:30 am service, and sometimes during special events.

Regular Sunday School is held during our 9:30 am service, from 9:15 to 10:20 am. Sunday School begins on the first Sunday after Labor day and runs until approximately the second Sunday in June.

We have two groups for Sunday School, the first for those ages 4-9 and another for children ages 9-12. The children in the 4-9 year old class learn stories from the bible using Godly Play, a Montessori-based teaching method using an assortment wood and felt pieces. After each lesson the children are invited to play with the pieces and retell the story themselves.

Children in the 9-12 class hear stories more directly from the bible, followed by discussion, and also participate in readings from the bible.

Both classes include crafts as part of their lesson time, and there is frequently opportunity for plays and music as part of the day’s fun.

Children also join in special events throughout the year, such as in the appearance of saints on All Saint’s Day and in our Christmas Pageant.

New this year we will also be offering a program called Rite 13 for youth ages 12 and up, which guides them using lessons designed to help them in real life situations.

We hope you’ll join us!

Download the registration form here:
Sunday School Registration Form.pdf

Return completed registration form to
St. Thomas’ Church
P.O. Box 631
Camden, ME 04843
attn: parish administrator