Abbey Organ Chronicles: Moving in the 32′, and the console reappears (UPDATE 11-27)

Some of the largest pipework for the expanded pipe organ coming to St. John’s Abbey was made on campus in the Woodworking Shop. Monks and laymen pitched in to move the 32′ trombone from the shop into the church. On the right is Woodworking Shop director Fr. Lew Grobe, OSB.

The moving team took a break and sat on the pipe before it went in the church:

The wood of the console is also being redone in the abbey Woodworking Shop. Here is the Allen digital instrument we’re using while the console for the pipe organ is a work site:

Four new manuals are stacked up, but just the first row of stops:

Here are all the pedal stops except the reeds, with the new Pasi stops in red and the existing Holtkamp stops in black:

And the pedal reeds, along with the existing positiv:

Excitement is building!

UPDATE 11-27: Here are the stops for the new Grand division – all red, all Pasi, all new:

The new pipes spill out on either side of the red screen – there is consensus that the space looks better with pipes than it did empty.

Excitement is building!



  1. This is really awkward.
    For several years, I’ve been part of the “live stream” community faithfully attending Sunday Liturgy and nearly all of the other “live stream” liturgical celebrations. At what point would it be appropriate to mention that the organ makes it impossible to hear the hymns, and the sung Mass parts. People seem to give up trying to participate. So, as the system keeps growing larger – is there anyone caring that the only voice being heard — is the one person playing the organ? Or maybe there is a plan to add an audio system to amplify the human voices?
    The choir keeps upping their game – yet even with mics and complex harmonies plus the assembly kickin it – its kind of like in that scene from Close encounters of the Third Kind when they stop trying to play nice with others and just go for it with full musical muscle flex crushing all the wee folk.

    1. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, for infants, a noise level that exceeds 50 decibels is of concern. Should parents be cautioned to bring ear muffs for infants and toddlers? How will this level of sound interface with people wearing hearing aids and koklear implants? What about for those using hearing assistance devices issued to aid in hearing the homily and Mass parts?
      Even cities employ level limits, I found this to identify at what dB(A) — readily available on phone apps does one lose peaceful enjoyment.
      “In residential areas between the hours of 10 p.m. and 7 a.m., the generation of sound from any identifiable source that exceeds 50 dB(A) at the property line of an offended person shall constitute prima facie evidence of a violation of this chapter. In residential areas between the hours of 7 a.m. and 10 p.m., the generation of sound from any identifiable source that exceeds 60 dB(A) at the property line of an offended person shall constitute prima facie evidence of a violation of this chapter.”
      And add to the range of levels measured during playing the bounce, the reverberation off of concrete walls of the church.
      As the ramping up of the system continues — are there limits? are there risks? should people with hearing assistance devices be cautioned?

      1. FWIW, while loud organs are a recurring issue in Catholic liturgical conversations in the US (but apparently much less so in mainline Protestant denominations; I will omit the denominations that favor amplified bands), on the other hand if I whisper a foot away from my phone in my quiet walled office with the door open it’s metered @~58 decibels.

      2. Difficult to accept a limit of 50 dB(A) for noise exposure of infants when according to published charts a crying baby is 110 dB(A).
        “OSHA requires employers to implement a hearing conservation program when noise exposure is at or above 85 decibels averaged over 8 working hours, or an 8-hour time-weighted average (TWA).”

  2. Anthony, how exciting! A few “organ-geek” questions about the new Grand division:
    1. What does the “Grand Organ 16′” stop do? Is it a 16′ coupler?
    2. What is the “Trompeta 4′-16′”?
    3. I am aware that, historically, “Quint” stops were sometimes listed as 3′ rather than 2 2/3′. But I’m curious why the Positiv has the Nazard as 2 2/3′ while the Grand division has the Quint as 3′.

    Congratulations on this wonderful project!

    1. Hi Jim,
      1. Yup, 16′ coupler.
      2. It ‘breaks’ to fill out the ensemble at all pitch levels. It’s a 4′ in lower register, 8′ in the middle, 16′ at the top, so it makes chorus chords nicely filled out.
      3. The builder of the expanded parts, Martin Pasi, uses 3′. But the Positiv is part of the Holtkamp which is untouched by this project so it continues to be named 2 2/3 as it was when put in.
      All best,

      1. Thanks, Anthony.

        That “Trompeta 4′-16′” sounds interesting, and reminds me somewhat of the purpose of a Mixture, with pitches that break back in pitch. I’d love to hear it in the full ensemble!

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