Renovation by Schneider Pipe Organs, Inc.: 1987-1992

In the early 1980's serious problems with the Kilgen "Matrix" relay boxes in the form of broken contacts brought about the desire to find a permanent solution to the various mechanical with the instrument. During this period, Richard Schneider and family, pipe organ builder from Kenney, Illinois joined the congregation as members. After several years of "struggling" with the problems of broken contacts and realizing that complete inaccessibility of the contacts within the relay boxes made effectual repair impossible, an Organ Committee was formed with Mr. James Poffenbarger as the liaison between the Trustees and the organbuilder.

A renovation program was proposed to the congregation that would redress these problems by converting the switching systems to solid state control. The program also included console renovations in the form of replacing the defunct original mechanical Combination action with a Peterson solid state single-level memory level with 16 General pistons driving new electric stop action magnets. This also afforded the necessary freedom to re-configure the stoplist to provide additional tonal variety to the instrument. At the same time, the troublesome Trumpet 8' stop was replaced with a new Hautbois stop extended to 16' so that it could function in the Pedal as well as on the Swell division. The program was accepted by the congregation in a special meeting in 1987 with the funds to come from a memorial provided to the church by a generous benefactress: the late Mrs. Hazel Holmes, from whose estate the main portions of the organ renovation project were funded.

The renovated instrument was re-dedicat d to the Glory of God in a special Advent Organ Rededication Service of Song on December 11, 1988 with Mr. Alan Keup of Springfield serving as the guest organist. During the same occasion, a special gift was presented to the incumbent organist, Mrs. Lois Stahl who has presided over the 1950 instrument almost from the beginning.

The Re-dedication program included the following Selections:

Praise to the Lord -Paul Manz
Savior of the Nations Come -Paul Manz
In Dulci Jubilo -Paul Manz
Von Himmel Hoch -J.S. Bach
Jesu Joy of Man's Desiring -J.S. Bach
Prelude on: This Joyful Eastertide-Jan Bender
Triune God, Oh, Be our Stay -Paul Manz
I Come, O Savior -Charles Ore
Prelude on: A Mighty Fortress -Wilbur Held
Postlude on: Praise to the Lord -Hans Friedrich Michaeelsen

The renovation program included augmentation of the stoplist of the original Kilgen design with desirable mutations and other registers, as well as a staged program of tonal renovations undertaken in the form of re-voicing the various stops on a rotating basis to provide brighter, more articulate sound in keeping with the strong German-Lutheran musical tradition of this congregati n. Despite the increase in size of the instrument, as well as increasing the strength of the Prinzipal chorus in particular, the congregation can easily out-sing the instrument with a very strident registration!

As a Thankoffering to God for His grace, mercy and blessing shown on the organbuilder and his family during their tenure at Zion, especially for the Christian Educational opportunities for the builder's children provided in the Christian-day school, a gift of a new Zimbelstern complete with rotating star, a III-IV 1' Mixtur, composed entirely of re-cycled and re-voiced pipework and a 32' Acoustic Bass stop for the Pedal were given by the Schneider family to Zion Lutheran Church in 1991 and 1992, respectively.

Since completion of that work, the instrument has been visited by a number of recitalists, including Hannes Meyer from Switzerland and Cj Sambach of Brick, NJ, who presented one of his "Pipe Organ Informances" to the congregation and the Christian Day-School.

Mt. Pulaski, Illinois
OPUS XIX, 1989

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