First Lutheran Church

Richards, Fowkes & Co., Opus 10, 2000


Founded in 1839 as the German Lutheran Society, First Lutheran is affiliated with the Missouri Synod and is the oldest such congregation in New England.  Outgrowing earlier buildings of 1847 and 1899 in Boston’s South End, the church experienced rapid growth when English replaced German in its services in the early 20th century.  The present Back Bay building was designed between 1954 and 1957 by Pietro Belluschi, dean of the MIT School of Architecture until 1965, known for his work on New York’s Pan Am building, Alice Tully Hall, and the symphony halls of Baltimore and San Francisco.  Its graceful roof floating over a red-brick coffer makes an elegant case for integrating a Modernist building into a staunchly Victorian neighborhood.  - Ross Wood

In 1995, under the direction of organ consultant William Porter and Minister of Music Mark Meyer, discussions began for a new mechanical action organ to replace the previous electric action built by Wicks. After a nationwide search, Richards, Fowkes & Co. of Ooltewah, Tennesee was selected. The organ was completed in 2000 as the company’s Opus 10, and has since gained a reputation as one of the finest Baroque organs in New England and one of the best instruments in The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod.

The North German case of white oak blends well with the simple linear feel of the church interior. The ornate case, designed in the North German style and constructed of white oak, contrasts with the linear architecture of the nave, not unlike an antique work of art in a modern museum. The organ is voiced with a gentle, vocal quality that is nevertheless strong enough to accompany congregational singing, and it renders the organ repertoire of the historic Lutheran tradition with the utmost authenticity. There are seven independent reed stops over the two manuals and pedal, including three (with a short length 16′ Dulcian) in the Rückpositiv.

The manual coupler connects the Werk to the Rückpositiv in the Dutch tradition, rather than the more normal Rückpositiv to Werk. This is particulary useful in leading hymn singing: the accompaniment can be played on the Werk, and its stops combined with those of the Rückpositiv play the chorale tune.

In 2010, the organ was completed with the installation of the 8′ Vox humana, the 4′ Schalmei, and the 2′ Cornet following a fundraising campaign and the generous support of William Porter and Jane Wilson. from the First Lutheran Music website

Photo by Len Levasseur

Photo by Len Levasseur