NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

October 5, 2013

‘An inspiration to us all'

Organist celebrates 50 years at Trinity United Church

SEABROOK — For 177 years, the historic religious meeting house now known as Trinity United Church, has stood at the southern tip of Lafayette Road, and amazingly, for 50 of those years, Cynthia Locke Brown has been seated behind its 160-year old pipe organ providing music for Sunday worship.

“She’s just great, a pleasure to work with. Cynthia plays beautifully,” Trinity United’s current choir director Lucy Woodes said. “She doesn’t realize how good she really is.”

At tomorrow’s 11 a.m. service, the church will celebrate Brown’s half-century as the congregation’s organist. Although many will join to make it a special day, Woodes said, some are fearful the milestone will mark a coming change.

“I think many people are very sad to think that she might retire after this,” Woodes said. “She plays without charge. Most church organists are paid and they usually aren’t members of the church.”

The wife of local Brown’s Lobster Pound owner, Bruce Brown, Cynthia Brown is the mother of three grown sons, and grandmother of many. Although she took piano lessons as a child and loved playing, she never set out to sit behind the church’s grand organ every Sunday. But when the church’s former organist left, Brown was “volunteered” to fill in temporarily by her mother-in-law, Viola Brown in 1963. Since then, the church never saw reason to find anyone else.

“When I first started, I was so nervous, I used to say a prayer no one would come,” Brown said in a previous interview. “Then, I prayed there’d be so many people, their voices would fill the church so they couldn’t hear me play. Now, I feel such grandeur when I hear the people singing.”

Trinity United Church member Eric Small remembers a time early in her career when Brown agonized over her playing.

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