History of
Trinity Evangelical Lutheran
its organ


Trinity's Beckerath organ is a historic instrument. Built in 1956, it is the first large mechanical-action organ in North America. It is entirely mechanical in construction except for a 1hp motor to supply the wind.

A mechanical-action
pipe organ

This organ is in the tradition of organs built in northern Europe during the Baroque era, which climaxed in the music of J.S. Bach. Trinity's organ was the American showcase for the prestigious Beckerath firm of Hamburg, Germany. crafted in
modern times
Rudolph von Beckerath (1907-1976) grew up in Hamburg. He was fascinated by the organ and was especially influenced by the historic Schnitger organ at the Jacobikirche in Hamburg. He worked at first for other builders, notably Gonzalez in Paris and Frobenius in Copenhagen. In1948 he helped restore the Schnitger organ in Steinkirchen, Germany.
by a master builder

In 1949 Beckerath set up his own shop in Hamburg. He was devoted to mechanical action (which, unlike electric action, is responsive to the player's touch) and to a powerful yet clear sound and beautiful ensemble.

Beckerath's work was greatly admired by Robert Noehren, head of the organ department at the University of Michigan. Knowing Trinity needed a new organ, he brought Beckerath and Trinity together.

in the finest
The organ was built in Hamburg in 1956. That November it arrived in Cleveland (via the St. Lawrence Seaway), along with two craftsmen from Beckerath's firm. They reassembled the organ, and in February, 1957, Rudolph von Beckerath arrived to make the finishing touches: in a process called voicing, he made final adjustments to every one of the 3,467 pipes.
of the north European Baroque

E. Power Biggs was one of the first of hundreds of organists, organbuilders, and music lovers who came from all over the world to hear and play Trinity's new organ. He visited on March 28, 1957 and proclaimed the organ superb:

and proclaimed a masterpiece
"Having had the privilege yesterday of playing the new organ at Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church, I feel I must certainly write to you at once to offer most hearty congratulations on this wonderful instrument! Both in your choice of the builder, and in the instrument that Mr. von Beckerath has built for you, the church has acquired one of the truly distinguished organs of the country. In fact, where else can one find an organ to equal this [in] tonal excellence."
that plays
a vital role

Trinity's Beckerath inspired a new era of organbuilding and playing in America.

While Trinity's Beckerath is best-suited to music of the northern European Baroque and in that tradition, this organ's integrity and beauty serve music of other periods and styles.

Part of the fascination of the organ is its tremendous variety from one era, region, style, and builder to another. An organ built in a certain tradition brings the music of that tradition brilliantly alive. (Most modern pipe organs in America are eclectic in design.)

A number of instruments in or near Cleveland are designed for music of certain traditions: the Renaissance, Spanish Baroque, Italian Baroque, French Romantic era, or early 1900s. It is wonderful to hear music on an organ designed expressly for that music-and fun to compare and contrast the sounds and specifications of other organs to those of the Beckerath.

in the life of the community

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Trinity's present sanctuary was built in 1873. The total cost to build the brick structure was $31,000--debt-free. Member families mortgaged their homes to see the construction completed and paid in full.
An historic landmark
The sanctuary was proclaimed an "outstanding example of Victorian Gothic architecture" by the Cleveland Chapter of the American Institute
of Architects in the 1960s.
architectural gem
religious symbolism
and beauty
Trinity is not a massive church (127 feet by 62 feet by 42 feet), but its 175-foot high steeple stands as a lighthouse to the surrounding community. Inside, its high arches and its original stained-glass windows and German wood craftsmanship--filled with Christian symbolism--offer visitors an experience of solemn, peaceful beauty.
The people of Trinity Lutheran Church invite you to visit and experience the sanctuary personally. Sunday morning worship, always featuring the Beckerath organ, is at 9:30 a.m. In 2001, Trinity launched a capital campaign to begin renovating the sanctuary over the next several years.

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For nearly 150 years, Trinity has shaped the lives, experiences and faiths of thousands of people.
In that time, Trinity has also been greatly used by God:

Through Trinity churches were planted, including Christ (Robert Ave. & W. 43rd), Immanuel (Scranton Road) St. Luke (W. 85th & Sauer), St. Paul (Detroit Road in Westlake), and the Hispanic mission congregation El Buen Pastor (W. 28th).
Lutheran education in Cleveland had its roots, including the birth of downtown's Lutheran High School and Luther Memorial School. Through Trinity
Through Trinity ministries and organizations began, including Lutheran Children's Aid, Lutheran Home for the Aged, Lutheran Hospital, and Lutheran Metropolitan Ministry.
But Trinity is about more than just the past. Today, after several decades of cultural change and social turbulence in the surrounding neighborhoods, Trinity is again a thriving and dynamic ministry:
attendance has grown by 15% every year in the past five years. Worship Service
Outreach is at the heart of Trinity's ministry to Appalachians, Hispanics, urban youth, and white-collar professionals living and working in downtown Cleveland.
community hot meal and care ministry programs provide much-needed service, counseling and support to the disadvantaged nearby. Trinity's Food Pantry
music programs

With the Beckerath as its centerpiece, Trinity's cultural offerings continue to expand, including weekly and annual concerts and other special celebrations that draw classical music enthusiasts from across northeast Ohio.

Healthy, growing and a source of innovative ministry, Trinity's vision is to again be a source of glory to God in citywide Lutheran service and mission.

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