The Tabernacle Choir Blog

In 1915 the Tabernacle Organ Doubled in Size and Revolutionary Features Were Added

The Tabernacle organ has undergone many renovations. During a renovation that took place in 1915, the organ was expanded, and its width grew from 30 feet to 60 feet.

John McClellan was a Tabernacle organist at the time of the upgrade and expansion. He shared the following insight in an interview that is recorded in The Tabernacle: An Old and Wonderful Friend:

I cannot imagine how a large organ could be made more accessible and easier of performance. The idea of having tablets in lieu of the old knob stops is an excellent one, and there are also several features incorporated in the new console which greatly simplify the work of the organist and help to secure marvelous effects with a minimum of effort.

One of the chief and most valuable features of the console is the chancellor bar which operates over each group of tablets, representing the various organs. By means of this bar, the organist with one movement of the hand can throw off all the stops, and retain those he wishes by holding the same until the bar has been released. There are nearly twice as many combination positions in the new Tabernacle organ as are found in the large organs of New York City or the Festival Hall organ.

Over the upper manual or keyboard are found 10 “general” combination pistons by means of which the organist may set the most elaborate combinations of tone color, controlling the entire instrument. This is an array of accessories which can not be found elsewhere. The organ is the very last word in the evolution of organ building, and this is a great point when one considers that during the last five years, or since the advent of wireless telegraphy, pipe organ building has shown greater progress than in the previous history of the world.

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