Musical memorial to a fallen soldier

New tracker organ at St. Luke's Cathedral, Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. Photo: Stephen Mallinger
New tracker organ at St. Luke's Cathedral, Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. Photo: Stephen Mallinger
Published November 1, 2012

Last month, a Canadian soldier who died in combat far from home received a special tribute. At St. Luke’s Cathedral in Sault Ste Marie, Ont., a new German-built pipe organ was dedicated to the memory of Captain Nichola Goddard, killed in action in 2006 in Afghanistan at age 26.

At the time of her death, the young woman-whose grandparents are parishioners at St. Luke’s-was serving as a forward observation officer with Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry. She is the first Canadian woman to die in combat since World War II and was posthumously awarded the Meritorious Service Medal.

According to Stephen Mallinger, organist and choirmaster, the new memorial tracker organ was built in Hamburg by the renowned firm of Rudolf von Beckerath. “A tracker organ uses mechanical linkages between keys, pedals and the valves that allow air to flow into the pipes of the corresponding notes. There are no electronics,” he says.

He concedes that this type of organ, which was especially “voiced” for the cathedral’s acoustics by a visiting expert from Beckerath’s, does require a slight adjustment in playing technique. “It takes a little more finger power and has a heavier action, but the sound is very fluid and very even.”

Mallinger’s first public performance on the organ, which has pride of place in the cathedral’s new mezzanine, was given on May 20 when he played Dieterich Buxtehude’s “Komm nun bitten wir den heiligen Geist” during Holy Communion. “Two people came up and said it made them cry,” he says.


  • Diana Swift

    Diana Swift is an award-winning writer and editor with 30 years’ experience in newspaper and magazine editing and production. In January 2011, she joined the Anglican Journal as a contributing editor.

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