Organ History

At Glyndon Lutheran Church, we are proud and honored to have a Hook and Hastings Organ fill our sanctuary on Sunday mornings.  Hook and Hastings was one of the finest organ building firms this country has produced being known for their great tonal quality and their “butility” (beauty + utility).

Our Hook and Hastings Organ was originally built for the Norwegian Lutheran Church in Portland, ND in 1920 and Glyndon Lutheran came to own it in the late 1960s, buying from a private seller.

In January 2015, the process to begin restoring the organ was started. All funds were raised and the restoration itself took place in the summer of 2015. On October 11, 2015, an Organ Rededication Concert was held to showcase the work that had been done.

The following story, written by Helmut Schmidt, appeared in the Fargo Forum on Saturday, October 10, 2015.

‘Singing the Right Notes:’ Glyndon church revives 95-year-old organ

Glyndon, Minn. – A small-town church is usually a pretty quiet place during the week, but Wednesday morning Glyndon Lutheran Church reverberated with the full “voice” of one of its oldest members.

A 95-year-old Hook & Hastings organ, tucked into a nook at the front of the nave, was being run through its paces by organist Jean Hellner, notes tumbling and rumbling from its more than 500 pipes.

The Fargo woman praised the warm tones and brighter sound she’s able to coax from the recently repaired and modified instrument after playing Felix Mendelssohn’s Organ Sonata No. 6. She looks forward to taking part in the church’s organ rededication concert set for 2 p.m. Sunday.

“It is very inspiring. The sound is so warm and so beautiful. There are so many sounds we get out of this organ now,” Hellner said.

“It’s a great instrument for congregational playing. It’s a wonderful solo instrument,” she said. “I’m just amazed at what I can do. It’s a gorgeous chamber music instrument. It’s incredibly versatile. I’m so glad it’s here.”

The organ, built in 1920 in Boston, was originally installed in the Norwegian Lutheran Church (now Aurdal Lutheran) in Portland, N.D. In the late 1950s or early 1960s, it was purchased by Phil Felde of Moorhead, Hellner said. In 1966, it was purchased by Glyndon Lutheran, which had it modified in 1967, she said.

But over time, the organ lost power in its sound and became hard to play in tune, Nelson said.

The latest restoration was done this summer by Wolverton organ tuner and repairman Michael Nelson. The congregation paid about $4,800 for the work, but Hellner said they now have “a treasure” of an instrument that could cost nearly a quarter-million dollars to duplicate.

Nelson said he and a partner took out all of the pipes and cleaned them, then cleaned and adjusted the mechanisms and mechanical actions.

“Every pipe had to be cleaned. The voices have been brought back and there’s a full voice for each pipe,” he said.

To stop notes from “bleeding through,” Nelson repaired cracks in the top board of the wind chest, “so if you play one note, you only get one note, which is nice.”

He also had to enlarge more than 30 holes in the wind chest so that all of the pipes would get enough air for the instrument to be tuned properly. “That was the tricky, tricky part.”

Sunday’s concert at 414 Parke Ave. should last about an hour. It will feature three organists, plus several other instrumentalists and singers offering up a variety of hymns, and chamber and classical music, Nelson said.

The concert will include pieces by Mendelssohn, Ludwig van Beethoven, Johann Sebastian Bach and David Schwoebel.

With the Hook & Hastings renovation complete, Nelson said the instrument could have another 50 to 100 years of life left; perhaps longer.

“It’s a beautiful little instrument. Nice warm tones. Not screamy. This one’s nice and small and very unique for a small church,” Nelson said. “It’s still hanging in there. Singing the right notes.”