Reuter Organ Company opus 2076: IV/53
The Moody Church was founded by evangelist Dwight L. Moody in 1864 as the Illinois Street Mission. This congregation developed into one of Chicago’s largest interdenominational congregations. In 1908, the congregation took the name Moody Memorial Church. The present home to the church was dedicated on November 8, 1925. Designed by John R. Fugard, the unique structure of Romanesque influence seats more than 3,700 people.
An earlier church building housed a modest instrument built in 1896 by W.W. Kimball of Chicago. The current pipe organ was installed in 1929 by the Reuter Organ Company of Lawrence, Kansas. The Sanctuary structure originally did not include the organ, but its chambers, facade, and console were added in 1928 as the Reuter’s Opus 308. This new four-manual instrument required a special room to be added to the church building to house the original 4,186 pipes.
The original 1929 organ was dedicated in two evening services on June 13 and 14, 1929. Pastor PW. Philpott was the minister at that time and the choir, which took part in the dedication, was under the direction of Talmage J. Bittikofer. The organist for both evenings was Edwin Stanley Seder of the Sherwood Music School, Chicago, and a Fellow of the American Guild of Organists.
Reuter refurbished the organ around 1952 and the entire instrument had to be rebuilt in 1986 after an arson fire destroyed the console. The pipes of the organ were closed off from the main portion of the fire, but still sustained heavy damage. During this rebuilding, Reuter cleaned, modernized, and expanded the instrument to what is now known as Reuter’s Opus 2076. That process included the removal of the original antiphonal division of the organ which housed about 8 ranks of pipes above the ceiling at the back of the Sanctuary. The pipes were difficult to maintain and tune in that location. The large hole in the ceiling remains to this day.
Significant new additions in 2015-2017 have highlighted the warm Romantic character of the instrument, adding new principle tones of singing clarity, nobility, and fire from unenclosed trumpet ranks, plus several softer ranks and mechanical improvements.
The organ is in constant use in weekly worship services, concerts, and major events held at the church. This fine instrument, in magnificent acoustic, stands ready to lead future generations in engaging and vibrant worship.