Bedient Pipe Organ Company, Roca, Nebraska
St. Paul United Methodist Church, Lincoln, Nebraska
From the pastor
St. Paul United Methodist Church was the very first church in Lincoln,
established in 1857. Located at 12th and M streets in downtown Lincoln, the
present building was completed in 1901 and was used by many groups as the
city's largest auditorium. A major addition was built in 1999, and the
sanctuary was completely remodeled in 2001. It is an active and growing
downtown church with 1,800 members.
We were very excited when an unanticipated major gift allowed us to proceed
with a much-needed sanctuary renovation. One concern that we had to deal with
in planning this renovation was the old organ, a Reuter from 1953. The primary
concern was the appearance of the instrument in the new visual plan; and that
led to a secondary concern: the condition of the organ and its effectiveness in
leading worship at St. Paul.
We investigated renovating the existing organ versus replacement with a new
one. It became apparent that a six-figure renovation would solve the visual
problems but still leave us with an old organ that would eventually need a lot
of work. A decision was made by the organ committee to contract with the
Bedient Company to build a new organ in two phases. Phase one included the
console, a new façade and two major divisions of the new organ, and
allowed us to proceed with funding that was in place to solve the organ
problems. Subsequently, a second generous gift has allowed us to complete phase
two, the remaining two divisions of the organ.
We had serious concerns about replacing the Reuter organ with a new
instrument. Although the organ had many deficiencies, at the same time, there
were many sounds that were beloved by the congregation. Time proved that our
concerns were unfounded. The façade of the new Bedient organ is
magnificent and fits beautifully into the renovated sanctuary. More
importantly, from the first time we began to hear sounds from the new organ, it
was apparent that the tonal qualities of the new organ were equally
magnificent. The organ creates a beautiful, full sound without a hint of
harshness, and there are many lovely individual stops on the organ. It has been
a joy working with the Bedient Company. They have been responsive to all of our
concerns and have created a magnificent pipe organ for St. Paul United
Methodist Church that will enhance the worship experience for generations to
--Dr. C. Rex Bevins
Senior Pastor, St. Paul UMC
From the director of music
When it became apparent that the old organ was going to be replaced, I had
serious concerns about the suitability of the new organ to lead the
congregation and to accompany the many choral and instrumental ensembles at St.
Paul. Gene and company assured us that we would be very pleased with the
result, and they were right! The range of dynamics for accompanying was
remarkable just with the Great and Swell divisions in place. When a string
ensemble from the Lincoln Orchestra Association was being accompanied by the
organ, many remarked that they were unable to tell which sounds came from the
string orchestra and which from the string pipes in the organ! The sounds of
the principal pipes and the principal choruses are excellent for leading the
congregation in hearty Methodist hymn singing. The Bedient Pipe Organ Company's
Opus 70 is well suited for all requirements.
--Dr. William Wyman
Director of Music, St. Paul UMC
Director of Choral Activities,
Nebraska Wesleyan University
From the organist
The St. Paul sanctuary, one hundred years old in 2001, was designed
according to the Akron plan. The organ chamber is located in the corner of a
diamond shape, fronted by the chancel and surrounded by amphitheater-style
seating. Three balconies skirt the outer walls with a total seating capacity of
The renovation of the sanctuary and the organ were addressed with a primary
concern for flexible use of space. All chancel furnishings were permanently
fixed in place making it difficult to find space for instrumental groups.
Acoustics were another concern. Carpet with a thick horsehair pad and soft
acoustic ceiling tile virtually defeated the courage of the congregation to
sing. The old organ, though rather large, didn't project well enough to support
and encourage singing. And as a concert instrument it was wholly inadequate.
Flexibility was achieved by making all chancel furniture, including the
choir modesty rail, movable. Choir chairs replaced pews. The organ would have a
movable console. The Bedient Organ Company agreed to a major departure from its
practice of building tracker organs to design for us an instrument with an
electric console and with electro-pneumatic slider chests. The low-profile,
French terrace console was placed on a movable platform. Conducting from the
console is now possible for the first time in the history of this church.
Ensemble playing has become a pleasurable experience. Eye (and ear) contact
with the conductor and other performers can always be achieved. An adjustable
pedalboard, both horizontal and vertical, provides relief from back and
shoulder discomfort as well as seating flexibility for younger student players.
To restore acoustical life to the sanctuary, ceiling tiles were replaced
with drywall, glued and screwed down every twelve inches. The new chancel floor
was extended and covered with solid oak. The heavily padded carpet in the nave
was replaced with a thin, tightly woven variety.
But of course, everyone wants to know, is the organ successful? The short
answer is an unequivocal yes! It can do everything required of a church organ
in worship. Tonally, the organ is well matched to the human voice, supporting
congregational singing and accompanying choirs and soloists beautifully. The
strings and reeds blend well with their orchestral counterparts. Brass players
particularly have commented on how much easier it is to tune and play with this
organ. These characteristics also provide the foundation necessary for playing
orchestral transcriptions. In general, three tonal characteristics leap to
mind: gentle, beautiful and robust. But the truly unique contribution of this
instrument is its place on the cutting edge of stylistic development.
Given the tonal qualities of the Aeolian-Skinner organ, it is understandable
why there is a virtual cult following for that style of instrument. But as the
proponents of organ reform realized, its capacity to play the vast repertoire
with any hint of appropriate historic sound and color was nonexistent. The
American Classic organ simply produced a generic sound able to play all
repertoire but with little distinction. Music composed for it, of course, was
Now after an in-depth foray into historic building practices over the past
thirty or so years a new "American Classic" organ has emerged. The
sound is clearly influenced by historic models but in the case of some builders
it is still a generic sound, i.e., one basic sound for all styles of music. In
the hands of the Bedient Organ Company, however, a higher ideal is being
The higher ideal, to the mind of this author, is an instrument whose
ensemble is not only cohesive but by judicious registration may produce
ensembles clearly reminiscent of French Classic and Romantic, North German and
even English Cathedral sounds. The effect may not be literal but still is able
to act as a tonal chameleon. We find Bedient's Opus 70 to successfully define
this direction in the stylistic evolution of the American Classic organ.
In our recently released recording we have chosen a solo repertoire to demonstrate
the range of the instrument. Whether the organ's use is to support and lead
worship or as a concert instrument there are three requirements for a
successful instrument: dynamic flexibility, varied tonal color (timbre), and
Dynamic flexibility, that ability to affect a seamless crescendo and
diminuendo from the softest stops to full organ and back, is demonstrated
beautifully and elegantly by the Adagio in E Major of Frank Bridge. This is
accomplished by the use of two enclosed divisions, the Swell and Choir coupled
to the unenclosed Great division. This ability is essential, as well, for
effective choral accompanying.
The range of timbre is like an artist's palette. Each stop on an organ has a
specific tonal color: strings, flutes, principals and reeds. Additionally, each
manual division has mutation stops which, when used in various combinations,
create new colors. A few possibilities, using flutes, mutations, oboe and
cromorne, are revealed in the charming little dance suite, La Bourrée by
In most modern church settings an instrument should be stylistically
eclectic, able to play a wide range of literature both for worship and concert.
The music of J. S. Bach shows the instrument's ability to sound German and to
play complex contrapuntal textures with clarity. The music of Gigout,
Saint-Saëns, Mulet, Dupont, and Dupré shows the French personality
of the organ with its true French reeds and the full foundation of 8' flue
stops on the Great organ. And, referring once again to the Adagio in E Major by
Frank Bridge, the English love of building waves of crescendo and diminuendo in
the 19th century is clearly possible on this instrument. Finally, the inclusion
of three American hymn settings demonstrates this organ's ability to be
completely at home in the 21st century.
A new organ invites exploration into its capabilities: stylistic range and
practical uses in the worship service as a solo instrument, with other
instruments, choirs and congregational singing. The St. Paul congregation and
its musicians are grateful for an instrument that satisfies beyond our
--Dr. John C. Friesen
Senior Organist and Consultant,
St. Paul UMC
From the builder
The Bedient organ built especially for St. Paul United Methodist Church in
Lincoln, Nebraska is the company's Opus 70. It was designed specifically for
the St. Paul sanctuary. The three-manual and pedal organ has 47 stops, 59 ranks
and a total of 3,063 pipes.
To accommodate the needs of the church, we designed and built the organ in
two phases. Phase one consisted of the structural, mechanical, electrical, and
wind systems to make the organ function. Also included in phase one were
windchests and pipes of the Great, Swell, and part of the Pedal divisions. In
phase two, the windchests and pipes of the Choir division and the main part of
the Pedal division were added.
Inside the organ chamber a three-level structure, consisting of steel
columns and laminated wood beams, provides the support for the windchests and
the wind system. The façade casework and console are made of white oak,
the keyboard naturals are of bone, and the accidentals are of ebony. The pipe
shades are of basswood with the design drawn from the foliage in the stained
glass windows. The Pedal naturals are of hard maple and the accidentals are
capped with teak. The stopknobs are of cocobola. The pedalboard, expression
shoes and toe pistons adjust vertically via electric motor, while the
horizontal pedal and bench adjustments are mechanical.
The tonal basis of the organ is an amalgamation of 19th-century American,
18th-century German and 18th/19th-century French concepts. Pipes were made with
techniques and designs appropriate to their historical derivations. All the
pipes made by Bedient are an alloy of tin and lead, ranging from 2% tin to 85%
tin, based on the historical basis of the various stops. The façade
pipes, made by A. R. Schopp's Sons in Ohio, are of polished zinc up to the
six-foot body length pipes and are 80% tin beyond that size. They also feature
23-karat gold leaf gilding on the mouths. All wooden pipes are made of poplar
except for the one set of pipes that was retained from the old organ, the 32'
Contresoubasse, which is made of mahogany.
The manual windchests are slider chests and the valves that admit air into
the channels are electro-pneumatic. All offset chests are electro-pneumatic.
The electrical control systems of the organ were made by Peterson
Electro-Musical Products, Chicago, and include the Master Stop Processor with
The dedication concert for Opus 70 was performed on January 27, 2002 by Dr.
John C. Friesen, organist at St. Paul UMC. Dr. Friesen highlighted the evening
with his performance of works of Buxtehude, Bach, Langlais, Franck, and Vierne.
He was joined by members of the Lincoln Orchestra Association in the
performance of the Handel Organ Concerto in F Major, op. 4, no. 4, and the
Poulenc Concerto in G minor.
The new Bedient organ was also featured in a concert by The Lincoln Symphony
Orchestra celebrating their 75th Anniversary. The evening included Rev. Dr.
Victoria Sirota performing on Opus 70, after which she stated:
The new Bedient organ at St. Paul United Methodist Church in Lincoln, with
its classic European sensibilities coupled with American flexibility, worked
wonderfully for the Sirota organ concerto "In the Fullness of Time."
Individual stops have integrity and presence, and yet blend beautifully into an
artistic whole. Gene Bedient is a poet.
From the outset, it has been the goal of the Bedient Pipe Organ Company to
create a majestic organ that will serve St. Paul United Methodist Church well
for many generations to come.
The Bedient staff:
Alan Baehr, design, case work, installation
Gene Bedient, concept, design and voicing
Gwen Bedient, administration
Duane Grosse, pipe making, electrical
Jerry Hill, case work
Chad Johnson, wood pipes, electrical, voicing, installation
Rick LaBrune, windchests
Paul Lytle, windchests, installation, administration
Stan Pypenko, pipe making
Ed Stibal, case work, console
Jon Taylor, case work, internal structure
Donna Varney, voicing, installation
Fred Zander, windchests, installation
Todd Znamenacek, pipe shades
The recording of this organ by Dr. John Friesen is available from the church
For information on the Bedient Pipe Organ Company: 1060 Saltillo Road, Roca,
NE 68430; 800/382-4225;
Swell/Great 16, 8
Choir/Great 16, 8
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