St. Timothy's Organ

Charles M. Ruggles Organ, Opus 23, 1992


Saint Timothy's is blessed to have a unique and powerful worship instrument in the Ruggles pipe organ. Since its installation in late 1992 the Ruggles organ has transformed our worship experience with joy and vitality. Combined with our choirs and other special music, Saint Timothy's has one of the best music programs in Anderson Township!

The Ruggles organ at St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church bases its design on classic models from 17th- through 19th-century European originals, particularly those in Germany and France. The structural and tonal characteristics of this instrument combine to provide a variety of musical functions, including the accompaniment of congregational hymn singing, liturgical music and choir anthems as well as performances of a wide segment of organ literature, from the baroque to the present day.

The organ is placed in a free-standing case of walnut-stained white oak, designed to blend into the contemporary architectural style of the church, both in color and in the slant of the case ceiling, which follows the church’s roof line. The longest and lowest-pitched pipes are arranged on the left side in the upper portion of the case; the height of the case tapers downward on the right where the smaller pipes are located. This is a contemporary intrusion on historic case design in which, because ceiling dimensions and roof formation are not constraints on the builder, towers holding larger pipes are place on both sides and in the center. The rear and side walls of the case form resonating surfaces for the purpose of uniting the combined ranks into a warm and blended whole.


There are three “divisions” in the Ruggles organ. The Great (in German the “Hauptwerk,” or head section, or in French the “Grande Orgue,” or large organ) is in the upper level of the case.Its pipes stand just behind the façade in the case. The façade pipes are those of the 8’ principal of the Great, the most important rank of the organ.

The Swell division contains stops designed generally from the 17th- and 18th-century originals. Of 19th-century origin, the louvered “shutters,” operated mechanically by a foot pedal, open and close to effect gradations in the level of intensity of sound. This division is used for accompaniment, playing contrasting sections of compositions and providing unique solo effects.

The third division of the organ is the Pedal, the pipes for which are located within the upper case and along the wall behind the case. The wall of the church acts as a reflective surface to project the sounds of both the pedal division and rest of the organ into the sanctuary.

Wind System  The organ has one main bellow, which serves the Great and Swell divisions, and one smaller one, which serves the Pedal division; both are fed wind from an electric blower, the only application of electrical power to the organ. The unique feature of the winding (pronounced “win-ding”) is that it is audibly flexible. One can hear the “breathing” effect of the wind in the organ as it draws more wind for large chords, or as the player lifts a hand or foot to change a note or chord. This is characteristic of winding from the 16th- and 17th-century organs in Germany and The Netherlands, intentionally designed into the instrument to imitate the “alive and breathing” qualities of human tone production.

Mechanical (Tracker) Key Action  The mechanical key action can best be described in its simplest form: the key is connected to a thin, light-weight strip of wood called a “tracker,” which leads to and is connected to a valve, or pallet, below the pipe for a given note. When the key is depressed by a few millimeters, it pulls the tracker down as well; the tracker then pulls upon the pallet valve beneath the pipe, allowing the air to pass into the pipe for the note played.

There are two advantages of mechanical key action. First, it allows direct contact between the hands of the player and the pipe, making possible nuances and musically-sensitive control of attacks and releases of notes.Secondly, it is easy to maintain. The methods of suspending the action in the case and the use of light-weight connecting parts result in a musically-rewarding key action. The depth of the case from front to rear often determines the length of trackers and mechanically-moving parts of the key action. Because the case of the Ruggles organ is deep, the key action gives a solid, substantial feel under the fingers and yet is controllable.

Mechanical Stop Action  The stops on the organ are also mechanically operated. As a stop is pulled out, a hole in a “slider” lines up with the opening below all pipes of the rank which that stop controls. As keys are depressed, air is let into pipes. Several stops on this organ are designed to be pulled out half way, allowing only the treble half of the keyboard to sound. When pulled out all the way, the stops sound down the entire keyboard. The advantage of these “half-draws” is that the player can set a solo registration for the right hand above middle C and an accompaniment registration for the left hand below.This flexibility is useful in teaching or leading unfamiliar hymns. English and Spanish literature of the 17th and 18th centuries makes use of this mechanical device.

Tone Colors of the Organ  A pipe organ generally has four families of sound: principals, strings, flutes and reeds. “Principals” are the most essential part of the color pallet; they are the basic sound used to support singing and are the basis of most of the organ repertoire from the 16th century on. There are principal stops on all three divisions of the Ruggles organ: the Great contains principal timbres at 8’, 4’, 2’ and 1⅗’ and in the Mixture ranks; the Swell has principals at 8’, 4’ and in the Plein Jeu ranks; the Pedal division has principal timbre at 8’ and 4’ pitch.

“Strings” on this organ are represented by the Gamba in the Swell division.“Flutes” are available in each division at a variety of pitches from 16’ to 2’.“Reeds” produce their sound by means of a metal tongue fitted over a hollowed-out “shallot” made either of wood or metal. The flowing air causes the “tongue” to vibrate over the shallot, producing either a strong, trumpet-like quality of sound or a lighter, regal-like tone quality. The Ruggles instrument has several colorful and useful reed stops. The Pedal has two strong reeds, the trombone and trumpet. Their function is similar to the “low brass” of an orchestra; they support the “plenum” choruses on the Great and Swell. The Great contains a trumpet as well, and the Swell has two colorful reeds, the Dulcian and Vox Humana, useful for soloing and in ”choruses” of sound.



*Bourdon 16'

Principal 8'

Rohrflöte 8'

Octave 4'

Spitzflöte 4'

*Quinte 2 2/3'

*Octave 2'

*Tierce 1'3/5

Mixture V

*Trumpet 8'


Principal 8'

Gedackt 8'

Gamba 8'

Octave 4'

Flute 4'

Gemshorn 2'

Larigot 1 1/3'

Plein Jeu IV

Dulcian 8'

Vox Humana 16'


Subbass 16'

Octave 8'

Bourdon 8'

Choralbass 4'

Trombone 16'

Trumpet 8'

*When half-drawn, stop plays treble only, from c’;a single lever closes off c’.


Great to pedal

Swell to Pedal

General Tremulant

Wind Pressure:

Manuel 70 mm

Pedal 100 mm

Manual compass: 56 notes, C – g’’’

Pedal compass: 30 notes, C – f’

Suspended mechanical action

Mechanical stop action

Flat, non-radiating pedal board

Tuned in “Bach” temperament, H. A. Kellner, 1978

1627 pipes

Most of the pipes of the organ are made of an alloy containing 96% lead. The Principal 8’, however, is 75% tin. The Gedackt 8’ is made of walnut and maple. The Subbass 16’ and the lowest 12 pipes of the Trombone 16’ are made of poplar. The Trombone 16’ and both Trumpets have full-length conical resonators. The Pedal Trumpet is an octave extension of the Trombone 16’. The Swell division is enclosed; a foot pedal mechanically operates the shutters. The organ case is of walnut oil-stained, hand-planed white oak. The instrument is supplied with wind from a single wedge-shaped bellows, fed by a one-horsepower electric blower.

The pipe organ has remained the primary instrument supporting worship in the Church for approximately 12 centuries. The sustaining nature of its sound as a wind instrument and its ability to project varying volumes of sound through large spaces has preserved its dominance.

Since its installation in late 1992 the impact of the Ruggles organ on worship at St. Timothy’s has been impressive. Singing of hymns is stronger as result of the support the sound gives. The choir has responded to the clear voicing and rhythmic attacks and releases provided by the mechanical action.Organ literature has taken on new life as sounds more appropriate to the original conception of a composition have become more available. There is joy, vitality and power in the worship experience enhanced by the support the sound of the organ gives.

St. Timothy's assistant organist John Crandall

St. Timothy's assistant organist John Crandall

Martin Luther observed:

“I wish to see all arts, principally music, in the service of Him who gave and created them.Music is a fair and glorious gift from God.I would not for the world forego my humble share of music.Singers are never sorrowful, but are merry, and smile through their troubles in song.Music makes people kinder, gentler, more staid, and reasonable. I am strong persuaded that after theology there is no art that can be placed on the level with music; for besides theology music is the only art capable of affording peace and joy of heart…the devil flees before the sound of music almost as much as before the Word of God.”

Click here to learn more about Ruggles organs.