In the heartland of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod stands a country church served by my pastor-grandfather, Gottlieb Balthasar Seboldt, for 35 years, until his death in 1973. Our visits to Zion Lutheran, Gordonville MO (about 90 miles south of St. Louis, and near Cape Girardeau, MO) always included visits to this funky little Hinners organ, which always impressed me with its character even though far from the ideals of organ tone I was learning in school and lessons. Its 8′ “Humongous Open Diapason” would almost rip your ears off at the console, especially in the treble, but when in the room leading a singing congregation, this is what made it effective. In the 2003 renovation by the St. Louis Pipe Organ Company, it has been somewhat toned down, according to my uncle Arthur Seboldt who has lived across the highway from this church for many years, settling back into country life on the farm of the family of his wife Mildred (nee Grossheider) after some years of Lutheran school teaching. This disappoints me somewhat, since I wanted to check my fading memory on how loud it really was, but hey, things change.
Hinners could be called the “Ford” of pipe organ builders, providing some economical stock models. Naturally, they also built larger custom organs until they folded in the late 30’s. A description of this very model is found in Orpha Ochse’s book on the 19th-century American organ:
“For $485.00 we deliver this organ, one manual with four divided stops on the manual and an independent 15-note pedal bourdon. The organ arrives securely packed in boxes and crates on railroad cars or steamboat.
“Added to the cost is freight and the round-trip fare for one of our men to assemble, set-up and tune the organ. We make no charge for the time to do this work… only the traveling expense.”
The stoplist is:
stops divided, bass C-b, treble c’-c””, all but Diapason in a swell box
8′ Open Diapason
8′ Liebl[ich] Gedeckt
8′ Gamba (C-B from Gedeckt above)
16′ Bourdon (C-d)
Amazingly useful, even if you don’t exploit the divided stops. The accompanying recording demonstrates some possibilities. Careful improvisation, observing the manual division and limits of the partial-compass pedal bass, can open up some fine possibilities.
The following recording is humbly presented (click here to play, right-click and select “save as” to download), a 40-minute file of appropriate improvs and simpler organ literature I had in my memory and fingertips, made August 26, 2008. A photo page is found here.
Track / Length / Title
——- ———– ———–
1 01:02 Geraldine’s Prelude (?, childhood memory)
one of the 3 pieces always used by the longtime Zion organist whenever we visited on a Sunday
2 03:02 Allein Gott in der Höh’ sei Ehr (J.G. Walther)
The prelude I played when serving once as guest organist at Zion during high school! A real family act, with Grandpa presiding and my dad preaching.
3 03:38 Spirit of God, Descend Upon My Heart (Improvisation)
4 02:13 Fughetta super: Diess sind die heil’ge zehn Gebot’ BWV679 (J.S. Bach)
5 01:34 Our Father, Thou in Heav’n Above (melody as in “The Lutheran Hymnal”, 1941)
6 02:18 Vater unser im Himmelreich BWV683 (Bach)
7 02:37 Vater unser im Himmelreich BWV737 (Bach)
8 09:49 O Sacred Head, Now Wounded (TLH) and Variations (Improvisation)
9 02:48 Guide Me Ever, Great Redeemer (Improvisation)
10 04:32 O Take My Hand and Lead Me (Improvisation)
11 01:32 Silly Scherzo (Improvisation)
12 03:14 Prelude and Fugue in F Major BWV556 (attr. Bach)
13 01:40 Mr. Mueller’s Confirmation March (?, childhood memory)
The organist at the suburban St. Louis church I attended in my youth was another one of those who played the same three pieces each Sunday – EXCEPT on Confirmation Sunday, where he pulled out this processional.
14 00:57 Diapason Demo
15 00:20 Bellows Signal Demo
Hope you enjoy this as much as I enjoyed revisiting this instrument of memory and playing for you!