View into the church before the reconstruction 1955/57

The organ and its history

The organ and its history are the contents of this page. An attempt is made to give a comprehensive overview of the importance of the organ and the music played on it for the church in Dietkirchen.

A walk through the centuries

Organ music has existed in Dietkirchen for many centuries.

13th – 14th century

The importance of organ music in the St. Lubentius church in
Dietkirchen can also be estimated by the fact that 2 organists are mentioned in the Dietkirchen monastery as early as 1294, one of them the Magister Hildebrand, the other the organist Dietrich.

Mentions of foundations for the benefit of organ playing can be found according to Struck 1350, 1387 and 1398 (Wolf-Heino Struck, Das Stift St. Lubentius in Dietkirchen, 1986, p. 25). On 2 July 1387 it is Johannes von Attendorn, who bequeathed a rent in his last will and testament, so that May 4th the service “de spinea corona domini” in the choir and on the organs can be solemnly committed.
Johannes Obelecker von Kirchhain, Priest and chaplain of the altar of St. Mary Magdalene in St. Lubentiustift, on 20 March 1398, donates the solemn celebration of the
feasts of the Assumption, St. Magdalene and St. Margaret “prout in dicta ecclesia Diekirchen fieri est conswetum”, i.e. as it is called in the Church Dietkirchen happens and it is common there.

The canon Konrad of Wetzlar, canon from 1438-1461, donates 1 fl. rent, which is intended for the building or financing (ad fabricam unius organi) of an organ.

15th century

Struck also assumes that there were probably 2 organs in the church in the 15th century. The parish priest and curator Robert (Ropel, Ropertus, Rupert, Ruprecht) Zauwer (Tzawer, Zeuwer, Tzuwener), from Limburg, canon and curator from 1485-1516, parish priest from 1504-1516 donates a gülte for the solemn celebration of a festival “in canticis et organo”, i.e. in songs and with the organ. In 1536, on the other hand, the “parva organa” is mentioned, the small organ which was probably located like a swallow’s nest above the gallery on the high nave wall on the north side (see Schäfer, Baugeschichte der Stiftskirche St. Lubentius zu Dietkirchen, p. 19 and p. 79 note 45).

Struck sees more elaborate organ playing around 1600 and refers to a remark in the record of all the monastery’s income in 1549, in which a detailed instruction on the use of the organ is recorded at the end of the book:

Bericht und underweisunck, wehe die register an der orgeln durcheinander gezogen sollen werden. Erstlich soll zu dem Principall die Kopell, Mixtur Cimaln, Octaff und Burgpfeiffen, auch der Tremulant gezogen werden, usw. Ferner hat auch ein Organist auff nachgeschrebene Puncten guthe Achtunck zu geben. Erstlich, wan er ausgeschlagen hat, soll er allweg die Register zumachen, auch den Tremulant ablassen.Zum andren Die Tromme und Vogell mag er auch prauchen wann er will, doch nit zugleich, dieweill sie auff einer Laden stehen. Und wan er Wasser in den Vogell thon will, sol er denselben von der Rohre abnehmen uff das kein Wasser in die Laad komme. Nit jeder Man soll an das Werk gelassen werden. Wenn er in 8 oder 14 Tagen nit schlehet, sol das Werck zu gemacht werden. Zum leizsten sollen auch die Register gut auffgethan werden, wihe dan auch die Kerben Anzeigunck geben. Wenn nun in allen diesen allso fleissig nachgekommen wird, so kan dem Organisten in allen wohlgelingen und das Werck in sich deto lnger bestendig und unversehrt pleiben. Notandum sollen die Belg alle Jar am wenigst einmal gesmirt werden zur warmen Zeit. Item soll der Organist aus kein ledig Glas trinken”.

Even the before italic text is really hard to translate into english, here is a trial:
“Report and instruct, woe betide the organists to tangle the registers. First of all, the Copell, Mixtur Cimaln, Octaff and Burgpfeiffen, also the Tremulant, etc. should be drawn to the Principall.Furthermore, an organist must also take good care of the points that have been described afterwards. First of all, when he has kicked, he must close the registers, even the tremulant, and secondly, he may use the drums and the birds whenever he wants, but not at the same time, because they are standing on a platform. And if he wants water in the bird, he should take it from the pipes so that no water gets into the chest. Not every man shall be allowed to access the organ. If he does not desecrate it in 8 or 14 days, the organ must be closed. As a last resort, the registers should be kept well preserved, as well as the notches that indicate the time.
If all these are fulfilled with such diligence, then the organist can succeed in all of them and the work itself can remain intact and sound for a longer time. At least the bellows shall be greased at least once a year during the warm season. The organist should not drink from an empty glass.

The stops are also listed in this report:

1.    Koppel (connecting rods ?)   7.    Quintfleut (Quint flute)
2.    Octaff (Octav)    8.    Trombeten (trumpets)
3.    Mixtur (mixture)    9.    Krombhoerner (crooked horns)
4.    Cimbal (Cimbal)   10.    Tremulant (tremulant)
5.    Bartpfeiffe (whistle)   11.    Trommel (drums)
6.    Hohlpfeife (hollow pipe)    12.    Vogelstimme (birds voice)

(See also “Organ history of St. Lubentius Church” in “Festschrift zur Einweihung der Woehl Orgel 2002 in der St. Lubentius-Basilika Dietkirchen an der Lahn”)

16th century

Struck assumes that this instruction of 1549 refers to a new organ, for whose equipment 100 Königstaler were spent in 1580 and 1581. During the visitation of the monastery in 1584, dean Jodocus Pfalzel, who had been in office since 1578, was accused of not having presented an invoice for the plumb of the old organ and for 2 Ml. (Ml = Malter / 1 Malter = approx. 130 liter) wheat, which he had received for the new organ.

18th century

The actual instrument as a precursor of the present organ was built by the organ builder Johann Jakob Dahm from Mainz in 1712. It was a one-manual organ, of which both stops and pipes are still preserved today.

On 13 September 1711 a contract was concluded between the monastery and the organ builder Dahm from Mainz, which stipulated that the organ builder was to build a new organ for 1000 fl. until Whitsun 1712. (Note: 1 fl. = 1 gulden from about 1700 had a value of about 40-50 Euro – ).

A drawing given to the organ builder defined that the organ casing should bear the coat of arms of archdeacon and provost Lothar Adolph Edmund von Kesselstatt. This archdeacon donated 312 fl. for the organ. Furthermore the prospectus should show angels on both sides.

However, the casing was given the coat of arms of the canon and parish priest Caspar Schorn, who donated with 654 fl. a larger sum of money for the organ.

His coat of arms is described as follows: “…divided by a beam and a thread, from which two arches branch off above the beam, in the six fields thus formed C S above, C P in the middle, S L below (C = Caspar S = Schorn, C = canonicus P = pastor S = sancti L = Lubentii…”.

Should the organ builder die before the completion of the organ, the contract with him stated that his wife and family would have to pay for the costs. The collection of the organ from Mainz was to be at the expense of the monastery (see also “Organ History of St. Lubentius Church” in “Festschrift zur Einweihung der Woehl Orgel 2002 in der S. Lubentius-Basilika Dietkirchen an der Lahn”).In the commemorative publication it is also mentioned that Dahm and his journeymen receive free board and lodging, as well as additional necessary blacksmith, carpenter and masonry work. Furthermore, additional costs are listed which are taken from the “Computatio cistae” (freely translated invoice list):
“1712 8.9. The organ-maker’s journeyman Antonio and both journeymen carpenters receive 15 fl. of libation money.
1712 9.7. At the farewell of Mr. Dahm and his journeymen were drunk 16 measures of the Limburg wine in the presence of all the capitulars, the measure 5 fl. 8 alb (Albus), paid out in front of the newly erected organ work es cista 16 Rthl. (Reichstaler) = 16 fl., Dahm was paid for the new organ work, added up to Trierisch Gulden 240 fl. (50 rthl. = 75 Trierisch guilders).  to pay 4 fl. for 2 horses for Mr. Dahm and his journeymen to ride to Wirges, to ride from Wrges to Mainz 2 horses 6 fl.”

19th century

The description of the restoration of the choir and transept of the church in 1855, which was carried out according to the information of the priestly council Rau (Johann Georg Rau, born 1809-1872 / in Dietkirchen 1851 – 14.6.1857), shows that the area of the organ was not excluded either.

A new stage was erected here, eight feet above the existing one. At the same time the organ was built 6 feet back. The organ builder Peter Weil from Weilmünster made subsequent modifications to the organ:

  • Relocation of the keyboard from the front to one of the secondary sides
  • Addition of a slide for the violin bass
  • Addition of a coupling device
  • Three frog bellows were replaced by two box bellows

According to the aforementioned commemorative publication, the new register for the violin bass alone cost 260 gulden, and a guarantee of 6 years is said to have been granted. A note in the school chronicle from 1893 should give an indication of how old the organ might be. It says here that the organ “probably 200 years old, no longer met the requirements of modern times”. The writer of the school chronicle probably had no more precise knowledge of the actual date of the organ’s construction. Nevertheless, we are talking today about an age of the organ of almost 300 years and over 700 years of organ playing in Dietkirchen. 

In 1893 the organ was rebuilt respectivily newly build. The initiatives for this reconstruction were probably very much initiated by the former reverend priest Conrad Ehrlich, (priest in Dietkirchen from Nov. 1887 – Oct. 1889).

During the reconstruction the old case and still usable stops were retained, a tube pneumatic system was used and a console with two manuals was added by the organ builder Keller from Limburg.

The new construction and reconstruction was carried out under the direction of the seminar music teacher Schmetz from Montabaur.
The registers were doubled from 13 to 26. The intonation was designed according to the standard a=435 vibrations/s. The former box bellows of the blower were replaced by a magazine bellows.
For the first time there is also an indication of the costs. 6103 Marks were used for this construction work.

The revision of the organ was carried out by Cathedral Kapellmeister Weber from Mainz, the inauguration took place on 28.05.1893, the Feast of the Trinity, by Reverend Pastor Josef Ohler (pastor in Dietkirchen from 1.10.1892 – 15.11.1914) under the assistance of Pastor Hagemann from Eschhofen and Inspector Kühlbach from Limburg before the high mass with the correspondingly prescribed ceremonies and chants.

20th century

On 12 July 1916, less than two years after the first electric lighting of the church on 26 November 1914, an electric motor was connected to the organ’s blower by the Klais organ-building workshop from Bonn a. Rhein.

The school chronicle records that “this motor works perfectly and without noise, with smooth running and low power consumption”. An advantage of the motor was now a quieter tone, with no more sound fluctuations. The price for the system, including connection to the church’s electrical lighting system, is estimated at 837 marks.

The First World War also took its toll on the organ. On 30 October 1917, the organ builder Johannes Klais from Bonn, who had also carried out the aforementioned motor installation on the blower, removed 69 tin prospect pipes weighing 74 kg and delivered them to the German state, which confiscated them as raw material important for the war. As compensation, 501.20 marks were paid to the parish. These pewter pipes had already been taken over from the old organ during the reconstruction.

The organ, which was dismounted during the renovation work in 1955/1957, was re inaugurated on 30 August 1959 by the cathedral’s kapellmeister Msr. Hans Papst.

The organ prospect had been dismantled and disassembled. The work on the organ was carried out by E. Wagenbach from Limburg under the advice of cathedral kapellmeister Hans Papst.

New prospect pipes were installed again, which replaced the previous dummies. The organ also received a new console with electric action and new bellows. An adjustment of the sounding body was carried out according to “the modern feeling for sound”. This is the information from the school chronicle of Dietkirchen.

The organ mechanism was moved to the chapel room behind the organ, the prospect itself was placed on consoles. The pipes still in use, especially those of Johann Jakob Dahm, were reused. The organ now had a total of 2052 pipes and, due to the installation of 10 new stops, a total of 29 stops.

The angel figures on top of the two pipe towers were reinstalled as well as the central figure of the middle pipe tower. The two outer figures were once made by the sculptor Johann Neudecker the Elder from Hadamar. The central figure is attributed to the sculptor Johann Theodor Thüringer (also Düringer).
Düringer and his brother-in-law Martin Volck are seen as employees of Neudecker and took over his workshop after his death and continued to run it. All three are members of the so-called Hadamar School.
(The Hadamar School or Hadamar Baroque is the name given to an artistic sculptural style whose artists were particularly important in the field of altarpieces. The foundation stone for the Hadamar School was laid by Prince Franz Bernhard (1637-1695) with his extensive building programme, in the context of which, among other things, the castle was extended with the “new building”to the north. Between 1689 and 1692 he brought Johann Neudecker the elder from Miltenberg to Hadamar. In the course of the re-catholization of the Reformed area there were numerous commissions for architects and artists to rebuild or baroque churches and monasteries in the sense of the Counter-Reformation. Especially the style coined by Johann Neudecker the Elder was characterized by a flat-cut drapery, a long shape of the heads and a fluffy curl of the figures’ hair. The Hadamar’s (sculptor) School extended over a period of three generations).

The costs for the organ restoration of the 1950s, half of which was covered by donations, amounted to 12,200 DM.

21st century

In 1996, the responsible committees of the Catholic parish and church community decided to have the organ of St. Lubentius Church restored again. In 1999, the preparatory talks between the parish council, the board of directors, the Episcopal Ordinariate Limburg, the parish priest and the local organist (the so-called round table) resulted in the decision to build a new organ. The search for a suitable organ builder then resulted in the decision to commission the Marburg organ-building company Gerald Woehl in Marburg, which among other things also built the new organ in St. Thomas Church in Leipzig.

The total costs are said to amount to about one million German Marks.

Completion was expected in 2002, with the plan being for the first organ to be played on Oktober13, 2002, the feast of St. Lubentius.

Work began in 2001 with the first dismantling measures. From 28.04.2001 all organ pipes and parts of the organ were dismantled. One part was taken to the organ building workshop in Marburg for further use, another part was temporarily stored in the north gallery.

On 25.11.2001 the angels were taken down from the prospectus towers, on 28/29.11.2001 the whole prospectus was taken down.
In February 2002 the organ room was prepared so that the organ erection could be started in April.

The organ facade was completely overhauled and restored. A poliment gilding and polish-white setting was implemented. The original greenish glaze coating could be reapplied to the surface. The colour restoration was carried out by Klaus Tenschert from Hirschaid.

The pipes from 1712 (Johann Jakob Dahm, Mainz) and 1893 (Michael Keller, Limburg) were reused, a third manual was installed.
The historical organ case from 1712 was equipped with new lower housing. The console was mounted in the middle of the new lower case.
The principal mechanism, the positive and the small pedal was mounted on a drawer in the old case, the swell was established in the arch of the west wall towards the hall.
The large pedal is located in the hall, and the central wind system is freely positioned in the hall behind the organ as a tonal conclusion.
The organ has a mechanical play action (hanging action), mechanical couplers, electric stop action, typesetters and the stop crescendo as a roller.
The organ has a symphonic wind system with 5 bellows, divided twice per work within the keyboard range. Large and small pedal are separated.
The wind pressures range from 73-100 mmWs (millimetre water column).
For differentiated tonal gradation, stops from the 1st manual can also be played in the pedal.

The new organ would not have been possible without the priest Alois Staudt, who intensively promoted it. But he had explained that the actual builder was St. Lubentius, who was a good builder and helped to finance the organ.

On Sunday, October 13, 2002 the new organ was inaugurated by Bishop Dr. Franz Kamphaus in a solemn high mass. The high mass was performed by the Cäcilia choir, with Dr. Heribert Klein playing the organ.

Organ in the year 2020

Repro picture and 2020 picture © Ludwig Ries