Langmeil Lutheran Thanksgiving Church
Charles Street, Tanunda
B 1950 J.E. Dodd & Sons Gunstar Organ Works. 2m, 21spst, 9c, el.pn & el.mag.
Enl 1985 George Stephens. 2m, 23spst, 9c, el.pn & el.mag.
Gt: 184.108.40.206.4.4.2.II. Sw: 220.127.116.11.18.104.22.168.2.8. Ped: 22.214.171.124.8.
From the 2009 OHTA Conference Book, David Shield writes:
The settlement of Langmeil, on the banks of the River Para, began in 1842. Pastor Kavel ministered to the congregation, and the first church was built in 1846. Many smaller congregations emanated from this ‘mother church’. It is somewhat surprising that no pipe organ was used until the 20th century. The present building was constructed in 1888. The congregation, with a strong choral tradition, maintained the use of reed organs until the pipe organ was purchased in 1950.
Early in the piece, the congregation obtained a reed organ. It is recorded that the members of Gnadenfrei congregation at Marananga, then affiliated with Langmeil, were “billed to a 7/- per member levy for the Langmeil organ” circa. 1854.1 The organ was procured in 1856 at a total cost of £77.2 However, it is possibly due to the parlous state of the church school in 1873 that Langmeil developed a strong choral tradition. Debt on the school, low numbers and no teacher saw a call to August C.F. Geyer of Rosenthal which was accepted. Being musical and a lover of religious song he also became organist with the resignation of the incumbent Gottfr. Auchricht. The school was not well supported by the congregation and became a private affair continuing under Geyer and later his daughter until 1911 when it reverted to a congregational school once again. In the meantime, Geyer established the church choir. Early attempts were less than successful but in 1885 a set of binding rules and 1/- levy were instituted to create a more stable situation.3
The old church, dedicated in December 1846 and since demolished, had an iron roof with no capping but a three inch overlap against the westerly weather, proving to be no obstacle to rain from the east. There was no ceiling with the exception of a small structure, for acoustics, above pulpit and altar. These were located central to two windows on the opposite side of the building where there were also two entrance doors with porches. A powerful harmonium was placed on a platform immediately inside the right entrance door. Stone flags formed the floor. The bell was hung in a tree, later mounted near the school, and eventually sent to Bethesda Mission Station.4
In 1888, coinciding with the 50th Jubilee of the Lutheran Church in Australia, the current church, a church of Thanksgiving, was opened on 25 November. In preparation for the new tower, the bronze bell was cast at the Barwell foundry, Birmingham, England in 1887. Its Tone is C Sharp and it measures 30 x 24 in. (750mm) with a weight of 267 kg.5 The church is attractively sited in a large churchyard and an avenue of Norfolk Island pine trees leads to the main entrance.
In 1899, on 8 January, a new reed organ was dedicated. Collection had been in progress for many years and the ultimate cost was £117.6 Possibly acting on his own initiative, Theo Geyer suggested the church acquire a pipe organ to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Thanksgiving church in November1913. Dodd sent him three specifications for two-manual and pedal organs to be placed in the gallery.7
He was not successful, the congregation rejecting his proposal. After Geyer communicated his failure, Dodd commiserated with him. “I am sorry that the Congregation of your Church do not at present, see eye to eye with you, in reference to the proposed new organ, but possibly with a little further educating on the matter they may view matters differently.”8 Geyer died in 1946. The organ was to be a notable event of 1950, “realising the dreams and hopes of the congregation.”9
The organ was dedicated to the memory of Theodor J.S. Geyer, Langmeil organist from 1895 to 1946, at the morning service of 9 April 1950. This organ is a much later example of the Dodd firm’s work and was completed only two years before his death. To house it, a special organ chamber of stone work matching that of the church, had been erected on the south side of the church. The dedication was celebrated in the afternoon with a sacred concert featuring Mr Harold Wylde FRCO of the Elder Conservatorium assisted by Mrs Hazel Mader and the Choir.10 The organ became sufficiently highly regarded for the first school for organists and choirmasters conducted by the SA District of the UELCA. to be held at Langmeil 10 years later in October 1960.11
J.E. Dodd & Sons Gunstar Organ Works 1950
2 manuals, 21 speaking stops, electro-magnetic action
enlarged George Stephens Pty Ltd 1985 - 23 speaking stops
Swell to Great Sub
Swell to Great
Swell to Great Super
Great to Pedal
Swell to Pedal
Detached stopkey console (located in rear gallery)
3 thumb pistons to Great (duplicated by toe pistons)
3 thumb pistons to Swell (duplicated by toe pistons)
Reversible toe piston for Great to Pedal
Balanced swell pedal
Location: chamber on southern wall of nave
1 Wilsch, Con F., Marananga : Our History and Heritage (1986), p.17
2 Langmeil Congregation 100 years History 1843-1943, p.8
3 Ibid., pp.28-29
4 Ibid., p.8; Pamphlet Langmeil Church Choir: a History (c.1999), p.6
5 Langmeil Congregation 100 years History 1843-1943, pp.15-16; Bagot, H., ‘Bells of the Barossa’, Journal of Friends of Lutheran Archives, no.10 (October 2000), pp.9-16
6 Langmeil Congregation 100 years History 1843-1943, p.17
7 Dodd to Geyer covering letter specifications and details of construction, 26 December 1913: DLB 1913-16, pp. 231-233
8 Dodd to Geyer 9 February 1914, DLB 1913-16, p.53
9 Leske, L.H., Langmeil Congregation 1843-1968 (1968), p.30
10 Barossa and Light Herald 6 April 1950, p. 9.4; Opening and Dedication Brochure 9 April 1950
11 Leske, op.cit., p.30
Photos: Trevor Bunning (March 2009)