Christ Episcopal Church is home to one of the finest pipe organs in the Midwest! Our beautiful instrument sings into one of the premiere acoustical settings for music in the area, and may be heard every Sunday supporting our congregation in worship and at special musical events throughout the year.
The first organ installed in our current sanctuary was built by the Wirsching Organ Company of Salem, Ohio in 1890. This instrument was replaced around 1905 by the Hutchings-Votey Organ Company of Boston, which was one of the finest organ builders of that period. However, the ravages of the 1913 flood ultimately necessitated a rebuilding project completed by the M. P. Möller Organ Company of Hagerstown, Maryland in 1925. At that time, the organ was increased in size to four manuals and 42 ranks, and incorporated several ranks of pipes from the 1905 instrument. The tonal palette of the Möller was of a style that was fashionable for its era, featuring a plethora of 8′ tone and the introduction of a 49-bar harp celeste.
In 1967, the decision was made to reverse the nave of Christ Episcopal Church by moving the altar to the north (street) side. As part of this renovation, a new three-manual 58-rank organ of the American Classic tonal style was installed in the new south gallery by the Tellers Organ Company of Erie, Pennsylvania under the supervision of long-time church organist and choirmaster, A. Edward Kerr. He was insistent that the acoustics in the renovated church be sympathetic to good organ and choral music. The practice of retaining elements of previous instruments continued, with the large Swell division of the Tellers organ consisting chiefly of Hutchings-Votey and Möller pipework.
In 2002, the Capital Campaign for a New Millennium provided an opportunity to restore and update essential components of the
organ, which was a task awarded to the craftsmen of the Muller Pipe Organ Company of Croton, Ohio. A new handcrafted three manual drawknob console with solid state controls and MIDI capability was built. The minor restoration work was completed on other components to resolve mechanical problems. All reed stops were replaced or restored. In the Swell chorus, you will find new French style reeds, and the Choir Organ boasts a new Bombarde. Tonal updating was performed to allow the instrument to more effectively accompany the liturgies of the church.
Even though the operating systems in the organ now incorporate 21st century technology, every sound the instrument makes still comes from real pipes, some of which are nearly a century old. The result is a sound of timeless grandeur and beauty, preserved for both present and future generations.
To gain a deeper appreciation of the skills and talent it takes to play a pipe organ, we have included this video. Along with the wonderful music generated, you’ll see close-ups of the sheet music, keyboard levels, foot pedals, stops, and intense concentration of the organist. Our own Yun Kim has these same gifts, and we are so grateful to have her!