The First Lutheran
Church of Monmouth, Illinois has a long history beginning in the
year 1853 although not formally organizing until 1868. The
Swedish church celebrated its 40th anniversary in 1908 with the
installation of the Marshall-Bennett pipe organ and another long
In the ensuing 84 years, the
Bennett organ has been moved from a smaller building, remodeled
numerous times, struck by lightning and placed at different
locations in the church. The most recent organ project took 10
years. Eventually the Levsen Organ Company of Buffalo, Iowa was
contracted to completely rebuild the Bennett in 1989.
The Bennett suffered from tuning
problems, lack of proper ensembles for congregational singing,
noisy action, design problems, a failing of plastic components
installed in a rebuilding done during the 60's, deteriorating
wiring that posed a fire hazard and erratic pre-set pistons.
After Levsen held several meetings
with the church organ committee explaining the basic organ
design and made recommendations. The committee visited churches
in the area that contained Levsen organs to appraise the quality
of workmanship and evaluate the sound of the organs. Levsen also
discussed the ranks that would best suit the congregations'
needs with long time church organist, Richard Johnson. it was determined
the 1907 Bennett's solo stops and romantic sound was in need of
enhancing ensembles to lead the congregation in singing.
While the organ was scheduled for
an almost total rebuild, some usable pipe work remained and
round oak embellishments from the original woodwork were found
in the attic. The lovely old oak was cleaned missing parts
replaced and the pieces incorporated in the design for the new
The 30 rank Monmouth organ required
all new wind chests, supplementary ranks and console. Wind
pressures were lowered for the new organ to speak better,
cleaner and more precisely. A state of the art digital operating
system executes the organist's commands at the speed of light on
fiber optic cables. Ten levels of memory are available to the
organist and a transposer is included.
The Great was all new except for
the flutes that were revoiced. The Swell had new upper work
installed including the Erzähler Celeste, 4' Gemshorn, 2 2/3'
Nazard, 2' Flachflote, and 1 3/5' Tierce. The pedal organ added
a II Mixture and a 16' extension of the Trumpet.
The design of the organ took into
account a beautiful rose window and the pipe work was arranged
on both sides around it. The high ceiling church has fine
acoustics. Special care was taken to choose a well blended sound
that would fill the church and work well with existing ranks.
Pastor Gerald Youngquist has worked
with the organ at First Lutheran for the past 20 years and is
pleased with the very live boldness of the new instrument.
The June 9, 1991, dedication was
played by Master of Music, Carl Swanson of Los Angeles,
7 Waverly Court
Davenport, Iowa 52804