A short guide to the Metzler organ


The organ viewed from the Chapel

The first organ in the present Chapel was one which had already been in use (in the old chapel of King’s Hall) and was removed into it in 1563.  In 1594 Hugh Rose was employed to build a new organ which was completed in 1596.  In 1610 John Yorke repaired and improved “the ould orgaine”, and also made “a new chaire orgaine”.  In 1615 and again in 1621 Stephen Brittaine did some extra work to the organs.  In 1635 Robert Dallam overhauled and repaired it, and was afterwards engaged at an annual salary to tune and look after it.  This organ was dismantled in 1643, and it is supposed that some portion of it was rehabilitated at the Restoration in 1660.  A new “chaire organ” was built by Thomas Thamar of Peterborough, in 1663. 

The Thamar organ was repaired in 1686 by the famous Bernhardt Schmidt, known as "Father Smith", who subsequently built a chaire organ for Trinity in 1694, and in 1706 a second organ, incorporating the first, with magnificent cases which still survive today and are among the best examples of Smith's work.


Organ stops

The specification of the 1913 organ was drawn up by Dr Alan Gray, the then Organist of the College.  This work consisted virtually of the building of a new organ, but incorporating all that was valuable and interesting in the previous one.  There were four manuals, CC to C, 61 notes, and two and a half octaves of concave and radiating pedals, CCC to F, 30 notes; 74 speaking stops and 17 couplers etc., making a total of 91 drawstops.  The 32’ pipes were clustered in a corner of the Ante-Chapel as they would not fit into the organ loft.

In 1972 the College Council commissioned the Swiss firm, Metzler Söhne, to build a mechanical-action instrument based on the surviving pipework, and within the original cases, of the 1694 and 1706 “Father Smith” organs.  Pipes from the former Harrison instrument subsequently found their way to St George’s Cathedral, Cape Town and – almost the complete swell division – to a nearby church in Mowbray.

Bernhardt Edskes designed the “new” 42-rank organ which was completed in 1976.  Apart from its rich but gentle resonance and its exquisite balance, it is remarkable for its meticulous craftsmanship and durability.  The Metzler is understandably regarded as one of the finest instruments in the United Kingdom.


View of the Organ from the Ante-Chapel View of the Organ from the Chapel
Organ console Organ stops
Organ pedals Organ pipes


Organ Specification


1•      Principal 16 13•       Principal 8
2•      Octave 8 14        Gedackt 8
3        Hohlflöte 8 15        Octave 4
4•      Octave 4 16        Rohrflöte 4
5        Spitzflöte 4 17        Octave 2
6•      Quinte 2 23 18        Gemshorn 2
7•      Superoctave 2 19        Larigot 1 13
8        Sesquialter III 20        Sesquialter II
9        Cornett IV 21        Scharf III
10      Mixtur IV-V 22        Dulcian 8
11      Trompete 8             Tremulant
12      Vox Humana 8

23      Viola 8 34•       Principal 16
24      Suavial 8 35        Subbass 16
25      Rohrflöte 8 36        Octavbass 8
26      Principal 4 37        Bourdon 8
27      Gedacktflöte 4 38        Octave 4
28      Nasard 2 23 39        Mixtur V
29      Doublette 2 40        Posaune 16
30      Terz 1 35 41        Trompete 8
31      Mixtur IV 42        Trompete 4
32      Fagott 16

33      Trompete 8 • Father Smith ranks
COUPLERS:    R-H    S-H    H-P    R-P    S-P


The Organ

"The organ in the Chapel of Trinity College, which is justly considered the finest in Cambridge, and ranks among the first in England, was built originally by Father Schmidt in the year 1706 when Bentley was Master of the College, at a cost of £1500.  It has since that time received many additions and improvements; the most considerable of which was made three years ago [1837] by Gray and Son of London.  The compass of the great organ is from CCC the 16 feet pipe to F in alt. throughout all the stops.  The swell, which is exceedingly fine, extends from gamut G to F in alt., and contains the following stops: open Diapason, stopped Diapason, double stopped Diapason, Principal, three rank Sesquialtera, Hautboy, Trumpet and Clarion. The choir organ is much admired for its sweetness of tone, and possesses a remarkably fine Cremona.  There are two octaves of pedal pipes and many coupling stops, by means of which the power of the organ is much increased and great variety is obtained.  One of these stops, called a Melody Coupler, and the first of the kind ever made, was introduced at the suggestion of the present organist: this movement acts upon the two upper octaves of the choir organ, thus enabling the performer to play melodies with his feet."  The Cambridge Portfolio, by J.J. Smith, 1840, p. 194


A history of the Metzler Organ can be found here

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