“Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth.”
Psalm 100

Rebuilding the Sanctuary Organ | The 1850 Jardine Organ
Organ Concerts | Organ Staff | For Information

Rebuilding the Organ

Background | Timeline | Tonal Specifications | Frequently Asked Questions

Follow us on Facebook for all the latest project news and to see photos such as these of the work in the Sanctuary and the building of the instrument.

South Balcony Work
In January 2015 the pipe organ project moved into its next phase, with work beginning in the South Balcony. In order to make it easier for the sound from the pipes in the southwest chamber to be heard, some of the west wall of the South Balcony is being opened to the chamber behind.

This work has involved erecting scaffolding in the balcony. A portion of the lower six panels of the ceiling were removed and the wall behind them opened up in a way that maintains the architectural integrity of the space.

That opening will be covered with a replica of the panels that will allow sound to pass through.

Architectural preservationists oversaw the removal of the original pieces. The desire is to display that artwork somewhere on our campus—as we have done with the stained glass from the former Blair Chapel—thereby affording a “ground level” view of these panels.

Because Fourth Church’s 1971 Aeolian-Skinner Organ, Opus 1516, had been deteriorating for some time, in January 2012 the Elizabeth Morse Charitable Trust, one of this church’s longest standing and most generous benefactors and very generous supporter of the arts in Chicago, offered a $1 million matching grant as a springboard to financing a $3 million organ project.

Thanks to widespread support from so many, including a generous gift from Edie and Ed Andrew, we successfully reached the $3 million goal by the end of September 2012 and initial work began on the organ rebuilding project.

In recognition of the Andrews’ longtime support of Fourth Church music programs—including not only their gift to the organ but also their launching and endowing Tower Brass as an ensemble of Fourth Church—the rebuilt organ will be named the Edith G. and Edward J. Andrew Pipe Organ.

The Boards of Fourth Church subsequently approved our beginning to move forward with the rebuilding project. At the recommendation of the Organ Task Force, which visited and studied pipe organs around the country and considered multiple builders, a contract was signed with Quimby Pipe Organs to handle the rebuild.

In addition, U.S. Equities was engaged to provide project management. U. S. Equities is a long-time Fourth Church partner, having most recently served as project manager for planning and construction of the Gratz Center. The U. S. Equities team is overseeing scheduling, sequencing, site preparation, and the various subcontractors (architectural, structural, mechanical, electrical) necessary to complete the work.

Back to top

In late 2012, the design and preparation phase—which includes purchasing material, aging wood, and constructing components such as wind chests, pipes, and the console—began.

In August 2014, the current organ was removed and an electronic organ was placed in the organ loft for use through late 2015, at which time the newly rebuilt organ will be installed and ready for use.

In mid-July 2015 the installation process—which will take several months—will begin!

Back to top

Frequently Asked Questions

When will the organ project be complete?
The organ project, which is on schedule, should be done by the end of this year. The Aeolian Skinner organ was removed in July of 2014 and sent to the Quimby Organ Company in Warrensburg, Missouri. The rebuilt organ will begin to be installed in July 2015 and completed in time for Christmas.

Back to top

What organs are being used in this interim period?
The Allen Organ Company has donated, free of charge, an electric organ for us to use while our pipe organ is being rebuilt. The speakers for this organ are located in each of the side balconies and in the choir loft.
       Stephen Schnurr has also permanently loaned Fourth Church an 1850 Jardine tracker organ of 3-1/2 ranks. This organ is the oldest playing organ in Chicago and since it predates electricity, air must be pumped into it by an assistant. The organ has a sweet and clear tone and is located in the East Balcony.
       We have also used the Steinway piano and have enjoyed a variety of instrumentalists.

Back to top

Why is there scaffolding in the South Balcony?
The scaffolding is to create a new tone opening above the existing opening, which will allow more sound from the organ into the Sanctuary. The walls of the pipe chamber are 29 inches thick, so not much sound gets through that. The new opening will be about five feet wide and eight feet long but will not be visible in the room since it will be behind the first arch in the south balcony.  The bottom six murals in this arch have been carefully removed and are being replaced with digitally produced images on a screen much like the fabric over a stereo speaker.  When it is all done it should be hardly noticeable visibly but will greatly enhance the sound of the organ.

Back to top

What other construction needs to be done to get ready for the organ?
The North Balcony will be prepared for one division of the organ, the Positiv. The façade of this division will mirror the façade in the South Balcony providing symmetry to the room.  This work will be completed by June.
       In the antiphonal division of the organ, located in the back of the Sanctuary, above the east window, we will be building solid walls around the pipes to again focus the sound of the organ into the Sanctuary and also protect the pipes from significant shifts in temperature.
       In the basement of the church we will be painting, cleaning, and installing a humidification system into the new blower for the organ.
       The main pipe chamber itself, located in the chancel,will also be painted, cleaned, and made ready for the new organ to arrive beginning in July.

Back to top

What will the new organ sound like?
The rebuilt organ will have a great deal more warmth, foundation tone, bass frequency, and color. It will have new delicate symphonic colors such as a harp, an English horn and lots of lush string tone. We are also adding bells, called zymbelsterns, and an additional set of chimes.
        The organ will be an American symphonic organ with a great deal of influence from the British organ builders, T. C. Lewis and Henry Willis. It will be able to play anything but will be most at home accompanying congregational singing, choir anthems, and any organ literature.

Back to top

Will there be a new console for the organ?
Yes, there were so many problems with the keyboards and combination action, or memory, of the previous organ that we had no choice but to completely replace it.  The new console will be the only organ in Chicago—and one of the few in all of America—to have five keyboards, or manuals, for the hands to play. These keyboards along with the pedal will control nine divisions of the organ. The previous organ had seven divisions, so that is another reason why we needed to upgrade to the five manuals.
        We have also selected a combination action, again the memory of the organ, which will have 10,000 memory levels for any number of players who use the organ, in other words, completely unlimited memory. The previous organ had four memory levels, which often failed to work at all. This will enable multiple organists to use the organ on a regular basis.

Back to top

Have we raised all the funds for the organ?
Yes, thanks to the generosity of so many people here at Fourth Church and beyond. We allocated a year to raise the $3 million required to do the organ project and in just seven months had raised the full amount. The William Morse Charitable Trust gave Fourth Church a matching grant intended to get us to the $3 million dollar goal and gave a dollar for each two dollars we raised. Hundreds of members supported the vision of a rebuilt organ. Among them, Ed and Edie Andrew generously gave a million dollars. For their love and ongoing support of the music program at Fourth Church, including Tower Brass, the organ will be called the Andrew Pipe Organ.

Back to top

Will this be the largest pipe organ in Chicago?
Yes, when completed, the organ will have 143 ranks, nearly 8,000 pipes, and will be the largest not only in Chicago but throughout the Midwest. For many years Fourth Church had the largest pipe organ in Chicago, but Rockefeller Chapel, has held that title for about the past ten years with 132 ranks. Most importantly, though, is that this will be an organ that will inspire people, bringing them closer to God with its expressions of majesty, sorrow and joy.  It will be an organ that will support congregational singing much more effectively than the previous organ.

Back to top

Who else is helping with the project?
John Sherer, Marty Sherrod, Leszek Pytka, Ann Rehfeldt, and Shannon Kerschner are all involved currently. Fundraising was achieved with the help of Katy Frey Bever Frey, Kathi Rodak, Kate Solis, and many others. An Organ Task Force was begun in 2006, and there is currently an Organ Steering Committee, which in addition to staff members mentioned above consists of Anne Voshel, Don Allerton, and John Shorney. U. S. Equities is our project manager, and Threshold is providing acoustical support.

Back to top

Where is the organ being built?
The Quimby Organ Company is in Warrensburg Missouri, about an hour east of Kansas City, Kansas. The pipes from the Aeolian Skinner are being cleaned and repaired there and new pipes are being hand made there. Each new pipe must be rolled into its form and then carefully made to sound the desired way. It is very time-consuming work, since no two organs are alike. 
     The console is being made near St. Louis by Jim Schmidt, and the electronic control mechanisms and combination action for the organ are being made in Atlanta by the Virtuoso Company.

Back to top

Tonal Specifications of the Rebuilt Organ

Action: Electro-pneumatic
Ranks: 142 Total Ranks and 2 Percussions (Chimes and Harp/Celesta)

*ranks retained from Aeolian-Skinner Opus 1516
+ranks retained from E. M. Skinner Opus 210
++ranks retained from E. M. Skinner Opus 210A

Great Organ
Manual II, 30 Ranks, Flues 8" w.p. and Reeds 12" w.p.

Contra Violone* 32' — ext (1–3 Walker Digital)
Double Open Diapason 16'
Violone 16' — ext
First Diapason 8'
Second Diapason 8'
Third Diapason 8'
Violoncello 8'
Harmonic Flute* 8'
Bourdon 8'
Quint 5-1/3'
Octave 4'
Principal 4'
Wald Flute 4'
Twelfth 2-2/3'
Fifteenth 2'
Seventeenth* 1-3/5'
Cornet TC V Ranks* 8'
Mixture IV–V* 1-1/3'
Sharp Mixture III–IV* 1'
Contra Trumpet 16'
Trumpet 8'
Clarion 4'
Tuba Major 8' (Orch)
Trompette Heroique 8' (Antiphon)
French Horn 8' (Orch)
Great to Great 16'
Great Unison Off
Great to Great 4'
Fanfare on Great 8'
Fanfare on Great 4'
Positiv on Great

Swell Organ
Manual III, 24 Ranks, Flues 8" w.p. and Reeds 12" w.p.
Spitz Flute 16'
Diapason 8'
Chimney Flute 8'
Viole 8'
Viole Celeste 8'
Spitz Flute 8' — ext
Spitz Flute Celeste 8'
Octave 4'
Night Horn 4'
Nazard 2-2/3'
Flageolet 2'
Tierce 1-3/5'
Plein Jeu IV* 2'
Mixture III–IV* 1'
Contre Trompette 16'
Trompette 8'
Oboe* 8'
Vox Humana+ 8'
Clarion 4'
Tuba Major 8' (Orch)
Trompette Heroique 8' (Antiphon)
Swell to Swell 16'
Swell Unison Off
Swell to Swell 4'
Fanfare on Swell

Choir Organ
Manual I, 17 Ranks, 8" w.p.

Kleiner Erzähler 16' — ext
Diapason 8'
Flauto Traverso 8'
Kleiner Erzähler+ 8'
Erzähler Celeste TC+ 8'
Octave 4'
Harmonic Flute 4'
Harmonic Piccolo 2'
Mixture IV–V 1-1/3'
Cymbal II–III 2/3'
Fagotto+ 16'
Corno Di Bassetto+ 8'
Fagotto 8' — ext
Carillon (Walker Digital)
Harp (Walker Digital)
Celesta (Walker Digital)
Tuba Major 8' (Orch)
Trompette Heroique 8' (Antiphon)
Choir to Choir 16'
Choir Unison Off
Choir to Choir 4'
Fanfare on Choir
Positiv on Choir

Orchestral Organ
Manual IV, 15 Ranks, Flues and Reeds 10" and Tuba 30"w.p,
Doppel Flute 8'
Gross Gamba 8'
Gross Gamba Celeste 8'
Viole D’ Orchestre 8'
Voix Celeste 8'
Orchestral Flute 4'
Violin 4'
Cornet de Violes III-V 2-2/3'
Tuba Major 8'
French Horn+ 8'
English Horn 8'
Orch. to Orch. 16'
Orch. Unison Off
Orch. to Orch. 4'
Trompette Heroique 8' (Antiphon)
Fanfare on Orchestral
Positiv on Orchestral

Fanfare Organ
Floating, 15 Ranks, Flues 6" w.p., Reeds 10" w.p.

Stentor Diapason 8'
Octave 4'
Twelfth 2-2/3'
Fifteenth 2'
Seventeenth 1-3/5'
Flat Twenty First 1-1/7'
Mixture VI 2-2/3'
Bombarde 16'
Harmonic Trumpet 8'
Harmonic Clarion 4'
Fanfare Unison off

Positiv Organ
Floating, 13 Ranks, 3-1/2" w.p. North Transept Case

Quintaton 16'
English Diapason* 8'
Stopped Diapason* 8'
Octave* 4'
Koppel Flute* 4'
Rohr Nazard* 2-2/3'
Fifteenth* 2'
Spire Flute* 2'
Tierce++ 1-3/5'
Nineteenth* 1-1/3'
Fife* 1'
Cromorne 8'
Schalmei 4'
Bird Whistle
Positiv Unison Off

Antiphonal Organ
Manual V, 13 Ranks, 5" w.p., Trompette Heroique 20" w.p.
Diapason* 8'
Stopped Wood Flute 8'
Octave* 4'
Twelfth* 2-2/3'
Fifteenth* 2'
Mixture IV–V++ 2'
Trumpet* 8'
Clarion* 4'
Antiph to Antiph 16'
Antiphonal Unison Off
Antiph to Antiph 4'
Tuba Major 8' (Orch)
Trompette Heroique TC 16' — ext
Trompette Heroique* 8'
Trompette Heroique 4' — ext
Fanfare on Antiphonal
Harp (Walker Digital)

Pedal Organ
11 Ranks, Flues 8" w.p. and Reed 20" w.p.
Gravissima 64' (Walker Digital)
Double Open Diapason 32' (Walker Digital)
Contra Violone 32' (Great)
Wood Open Diapason 16' — ext
Metal Open Diapason* 16'
Violone 16' (Great)
Bourdon* 16'
Spitz Flute 16' (Swell)
Kleiner Erzähler 16' (Choir)
Quint 10-2/3' — ext
Octave 8' — ext
Violone 8' (Great)
Bourdon 8' — ext
Spitz Flute 8' (Swell)
Kleiner Erzähler 8' (Choir)
Gross Tierce 6-2/5'
Quint 5-1/3'
Super Octave 4'
Night Horn 4'
Tierce 3-1/5' — ext
Mixture IV 2-2/3'
Contra Trombone 32'
Trombone 16' — ext
Bombarde 16' (Fanfare)
Contra Trumpet 16' (Great)
Contre Trompette 16' (Swell)
English Horn 16’ (Orch)
Contra Fagotto 16' (Choir)
Trombone 8' — ext
Trumpet 8' (Great)
Trompette 8' (Swell)
Fagotto 8' (Choir)
Trombone Clarion 4' — ext
Corno Di Bassetto 4' (Choir)
Fagotto 4' (Choir)
Trompette Heroique 8' (Antiphon)
Fanfare on Pedal

Antiphonal Pedal
4 Ranks 5" w.p.
Contra Bourdon 32' Walker Digital
Contra Bass* 16'
Bourdon 16'
Octave* 8'
Super Octave* 4'
Contra Trumpet 16'

Positiv Pedal
Stopped Diapason 16' (Positiv)
Stopped Diapason 8' (Positiv)

Great to Pedal 8–4'
Swell to Pedal 8–4'
Choir to Pedal 8–4'
Orchestral to Pedal 8'
Orchestral to Pedal 4'
Positiv to Pedal 8'
Antiphonal to Pedal 8–4'
Swell to Great 16–8–4'
Choir to Great 16–8–4'
Orchestral to Great 16–8–4'
Positiv to Great 8'
Antiphonal to Great 16–8–4'
Orchestral to Swell 8–4'
Great to Choir 8'
Swell to Choir 16–8–4'
Orchestral to Choir 16–8–4'
Antiphonal to Choir 8'
Pedal to Choir 8'
All Swells to Swell
Manual Transfer

Back to top

Organ Staff

John W. W. Sherer
Organist and Director of Music

Thomas Gouwens
Associate Organist

Back to top

For more information about the organ at Fourth Presbyterian Church, contact John Sherer, Organist and Director of Music (312.981.3592).