Our Möller Organ

Background

Since the congregation was founded in 1850, sacred music has been central to the life of First Congregational Church, and organs have figured prominently in the musical experiences of those attending worship, concerts and recitals. A melodeon was used at first for “assistance in the musical part of the service.” It soon gave way to a reed organ and, in 1869, to a pipe organ. When the congregation built a new building in 1887, a new pipe organ was included. That instrument was replaced in the period between World War I and World War II, the new instrument serving through 1968, when the congregation moved to its current building.

View of main organ console and pipes

Organ and Choir Pews

View of antiphonal pipes

Antiphonal Organ

The organ in the present sanctuary was installed in 1969. The organ was built by M. P. Möller of Hagerstown, Maryland, from 1969 through 1972 and used some of the pipes from its predecessor. Its construction was underwritten by the generosity of Cora and David Crock, and the instrument has served the congregation and the community well in Sunday worship, in festival musical offerings, and in many recitals and concerts throughout the years.

By the early 1990s, however, it was apparent that the 1969 instrument would soon require significant refurbishment. Damage from roof leakage and condensation had taken its toll; the chimes, swell shades and combination action were unreliable and there was growing desire for improvement in the overall tone and balance of the organ.

After evaluation by organ builders Robert Sipe and Ronald Wahl, the late Miriam Clapp Duncan, then professor of organ at Lawrence University, and Dr. David Cook of the congregation, it was determined to ask Robert Sipe to undertake a complete renovation and substantial enhancement of the Möller organ as follows:

  • Enlarging the choir division
  • Adding new mixtures of pipes to balance the great and swell divisions
  • Revoicing all pipes
  • Updating the console with solid-state electronics
  • Repairing the shades on the swell division

In addition to work on the instrument itself, provisions were also made for controlling humidity in the sanctuary in order to help the organ maintain its tuning and reduce the risk of mechanical failures. This work was completed in 1994, and the renewed instrument was rededicated on October 18, 1994. It is one of the three or four largest pipe organs in the city of Appleton, comprising three manuals, 46 stops, and 58 ranks. It is beautifully integrated into the sanctuary both visually—as the photos above show—and acoustically.

Organ Specifications

The original organ was built by M. P. Möller of Hagerstown, Maryland, between 1969 and 1972. Additions, modifications, and revoicing were done by Robert L. Sipe, Inc., Dallas, Texas, in 1994.

The organ has five manual divisions playable from three keyboards, the choices among them being controlled by a variety of couplers (detailed below). The (unenclosed) antiphonal, which has no dedicated keyboard, is playable only by coupling it to another manual. (To play the antiphonal alone, the chosen manual must be decoupled from its normal division, either by drawing no stops or by drawing the Unison Off coupler for that division.)

In the main organ, there are two enclosed divisions (choir and swell) and two unenclosed divisions (great and great positiv). Because, through couplers, the great positiv organ can be decoupled from the great manual and played from the choir, one can use the great and great positiv as a two-manual instrument with no enclosed pipes.

Great Organ 2' Flautino 16' Principal
16' Quintade 3-4R Plein Jeu 8' Gedeckt
8' Principal 16' Fagot 8' Principal
8' Quintade 8' Trompete 8' Bourdon (Sw)
4' Octave 8' Fagot 4' Choral Bass
2' Super Octave 8' Vox Humana 4' Spitzflöte
4R Mixture 4' Clairon 2' Spitzflöte
Chimes Choir Organ 2R Mixture
Great Positiv Organ 8' Flute Conique 2R Rausch Quint
8' Holzgedeckt 8' Gemshorn 16' Posaune
4' Spitzflöte 8' Gemshorn Celeste 16' Fagot (Sw)
2 2/3' Nasat 4' Principal 8' Trompete (Gt -Pos)
2' Blockflöte 4' Koppelflöte 4' Schalmei
1 3/5' Terz 2' Doublette Chimes
3R Scharf 1 1/3' Larigot 16' Gedeckt (Ant)
8' Trompete 3R Mixture 8' Gedeckt (Ant)
Swell Organ 8' Cromorne Antiphonal Organ
16' Bourdon Harp 8' Gedeckt
8' Bourdon Pedal Organ 4' Spitzprinzipal
8' Viola 32' Kontre Posaune (electronic) 4' Gedeckt
8' Viola Celeste 32' Unter-Satz 2' Spitz Octave
4' Prestant 16' Sub Bass 2R Mixture
4' Nachthorn 16' Bourdon (Sw)  
2 2/3' Nazard 16' Quintade (Gt)  

Combinations

Solid-state capture system with 8 memory levels
Thumb pistons: 10 general, 8 great, 8 swell, 6 choir
Toe pistons: 5 pedal, general 6-10 duplicated
Four independent sequences available on crescendo pedal

Accessories

Sforzando reversible thumb and toe pistons
Great to Pedal reversible thumb and toe pistons
Swell to Pedal reversible thumb and toe pistons
Choir to Pedal reversible thumb and toe pistons
Tutti reversible thumb and toe pistons
General cancel thumb piston
Individual division cancel levers
Untersatz 32 reversible toe piston
Reeds to crescendo off/on switch
Tremolo on swell, great positiv, choir, and antiphonal
Cymbelstern reversible toe piston

Couplers

(S=Swell, C=Choir, G=Great, Gp=GreatPositiv, P=Pedal, A=Antiphonal)

SS16, SS4, SUnison off
GUnison off
GpUnison off
CC4, CUnison off

GP8, SP8, SP4, CP8, AP8
SG16, SG8, SG4, CG16, CG8, CG4, AG8 CS8, AS8
GC, GpC, SC16, SC, SC4, AC, Aoff

Additions (1994 renovation)

New all-electric swell motors have been installed in the Choir and Swell divisions. The console is now fitted with all-electric drawknob and stop tab units and a multi-level solid-state combination action by Solid State Logic, Ltd.

A solid-state key action, stop action and combination action has replaced the original electro-pneumatic systems.

 

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