Top of the Morning, Aug. 14, 2014

Top of the Morning, Aug. 14, 2014

The star of Sunday's Hymn Festival in Gibson City is on the tall side, a bit overweight and is as popular as the town's high school football team.

While you might have to squeeze into a pew at United Methodist Church to get a good look at the monstrous 100-year-old Moller pipe organ, you could be strolling Sangamon Avenue and still hear it.

"This organ is well-voiced," said Bill Ogg, a veteran Gibson City organist with a history on the Moller, "and perhaps sounds larger than it is."

Back in the day, it was a bear to play.

"Organs built in the 19th century and the early part of the 20th century were pumped by hand," Ogg said. "Large organs often required two people to pump. During the church service, the organist would pull a stop called bellows signal, which would alert the person behind or in the basement that it was time to pump. If the person was dozing, the organ would not play. Later, water pump organs were invented. The organist would crank on the water which did the work. Now, of course, it's electricity."

Here's more from Ogg on the organ, installed in 1914, renovated in 1986 and ready to show off its 14 stops, 16 registers, 14 ranks and 823 pipes at 3 p.m. Sunday.

How much fun is it to play?

"Unmeasurable."

What songs were they playing on the organ in 1914?

"The organ's function was much the same 100 years ago as it is today. It was used to lead the congregation in worship, through the singing of hymns and anthems. In fact, 100 years ago, it was likely used as the sole instrument in the service. The piano would have been used for Sunday School assembly."

823 pipes: Is that a lot?

"A small organ has one-fourth that number of pipes. The Wanamaker Organ in Philadelphia has 28,604 pipes."

Is a 100-year-old organ a rare thing?

"In Ford County, two of the eight pipe organs are now centennial instruments. This organ was built by the Moller organ company of Hagerstown, Md. They built organs that have lasted."

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