April 17, 2002 - St. Paul

Beethoven was still living when the Episcopalians built their church in Woodville, Mississippi. Brahms was only three years old when they installed the organ. Both the church and the organ will play a prominent role when Wilkinson county celebrates its bicentennial this weekend.

Some folks will tell you that St. Paul's is the oldest Episcopal church building outside the original 13 colonies. Other folks will say that's not quite the case, but everybody agrees that it is an historic old church. Today it looks almost exactly the way it did the day it was finished in 1827. And the beating heart of St. Paul's is a pipe organ so old that it was playing hymns when Jefferson Davis worshiped here as a boy.

A century-and-a-half later, David Wilkerson is one of the few people with nerve enough to step up, sit down and play the old instrument. As David puts it, "Perhaps I'm the only one who is foolish enough not to be intimidated by the old machine. It's creaky, and the action is difficult to play, and you're cramped up, but it's a lot of fun to play. I like the tone that it produces, and I like the whole idea that I'm playing a beautiful instrument that generations before me played."

Music for the soul, history for the ear. You can hear the historic organ in a recital at St. Paul's at 7:30 Friday evening. It will kick off a weekend of festivities as Wilkinson County celebrates its 200th birthday. You can get a schedule of bicentennial festivities by clicking on the link attached to this page.