“There is still something to come”

Heat endangers churches and organs © Lea Bruggemann (DR)

Not only farmers have suffered from the heat. Church musicians are also affected, as the persistent warmth has made it hard on both organs and churches. Playing on "dry" organs is a consequential problem.

The summer heat also endangers church buildings and organs. As the Evangelical Church in Central Germany (EKM) announced in Erfurt on Sunday, the Holy Trinity Church in Holzhausen near Arnstadt in Thuringia is sagging, the freshly renovated walls are showing cracks, and the organ can no longer be played. Now it is to be examined to what extent other churches are also affected.

Less humidity

Cantor Gabi Damm is currently watering the stone floor of the church every day in order to raise the greatly reduced humidity again. "The organ was tuned at 70 percent humidity, now we have only 40 percent in some places," Damm said. The church in Holzhausen, with its organ built in 1788, has reportedly been extensively renovated in recent years.

In addition to the visible metal organ pipes, there is plenty of wood inside the instrument, including the wind chests as the centerpiece, it was said. In the large, airtight boxes, the organ wind is conducted from the bellows to the pipes. "If the wind chests crack due to dryness, this can result in expensive and time-consuming repairs," explained Beate Friedrich, organ expert of the Arnstadt-Ilmenau church district. She worries about how the numerous organs will survive the summer.

Damp towels provide a remedy

"Stands with damp towels help enormously, as does damp mopping of stone floors in churches," she said. Especially in hot periods the humidity should be checked and recorded regularly.

In addition, the expert advises that organs with bellows systems in the attic should not be used in the heat. "If the organ, which is already dry, is played on, even hotter air gets into its interior – that can be its ruin."Church building consultant Karin Schneider from the Meiningen district church office explained that the first reports of damage had already been received. "I don't even like to think about what's in store," Schneider said.

In Holzhausen, it's not just the newly renovated organ that's suffering from the drought. A water vein runs under the church, which no longer provides the necessary counterprere to the foundation because of the heat. That's why the church is really sagging at two corners.

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