The Samuelsen Organ
in Våler Church

Cabinet Organ

ohannes Henrik Berg (1752-1821*), who took over as parish priest in Våler in 1790, made acquiring an organ for the church one of his first priorities. The neighboring parish priest from Høbol, Peter Ring, informed Berg of an organ which was to found on the farm of Abildsø/Abelsø in Aker. Parish priest Peter Ring’s daughter, Marie, was married with Captain Didrik Hegermann Brochmann. Captain Brochmann had just inherited the Abildsø farm from his father Christen Brochmann, who died in 1790. The organ, purchased in Våler in 1791, “and paid for by the parish priest and his parishioners”, must have been among the possessions on the estate.

he organ is a so-called “cabinet organ” - the pipes are housed within a organ box which has doors on the front, as in a cabinet. One of the oldest, playable organs in the country, it is believed to have been built in 1781.
This dating is supported by the type of tuning the organ has - the disposition of the organ. The disposition takes its inspiration from England and is typical of the period at the end of the 1700’s.


8 fod


8 fod


1 fod


3 fag


2 fod


1 ½ fod


8 fod


4 fot

he keyboard has dark lower keys and white raised keys with a range from middle C to triple c. Directly above the keyboard there is a counter for up to 25 psalm verses (stanzas).

ngraved within the organ, in a place often used by organ makers to make their marks, is the name Niels Samuelsen. Niels Samuelsen Dæli (1749-1822*) was the schoolmaster and sexton in Nes in Hedmark county. His signature is also to be found in the Nes Bygdebok (Village Book), leaving no doubt that it is indeed his hand-writing rendered within the organ. Therefore, it must be regarded as documented that it was Niels Samuelsen who built this instrument.
The Samuelsen organ is unique and of an extremely rare type. Only two such organs are found today in Norway which are complete. One stands in the Norwegian Folk Museum on Bygdøy, the other we have here in Våler. One of the explanations for so few old organs being found is the strong, steady economy Norway has experienced. Rather than repair old organs, churches invested in new organs instead. Confirmation of this can be found in the region of South Vestland, an area characterized by high incomes from the oil and gas industries. All of the old organs here have been replaced with new ones. One needs to look high and low in order to find an organ built before WWII in this area!

ven country-wide there are very few playable organs from truly long ago. This, among other things, contributes to making the organ in Våler such a unique instrument.

When the organ was originally installed in 1791, the interior of Våler church was completely different from how it is today. At that time, the organ was placed in a gallery over the altar - the so-called “organist choir”. This may explain why the organ cabinet lacks a finishing cornice, as it needed to be positioned right up under the ceiling.

uring the major renovation of the church in 1867, the organ chancel, among other things, was taken down and needed to be relocated. It was then placed in the west gallery. The old organ probably went slowly out of use in this period, as the church acqired a new main organ one year later - in 1868.
In 1946 the “new” organ began to fail. A new Hammond organ was purchased for use in the church, and the two old organs were dismantled. The Samuelsen organ was stored in the cellar of the Våler nursing home. Here, the organ cabinet was, at times, used to store cans of paint! After restoration of the church in 1963, the Hammond organ was sold and the two old organs brought back to the Våler Church.

nfortunately, the Samuelsen organ has not been maintained since its restoration in 1973 and for this reason has again fallen into disrepair. In the Fall of 1997, a collection drive was begun with the joint aims of again restoring the organ, but also of ensuring a fund for long-term maintenance and care. The main component of this drive is a certificate of donation. (See facsimile below.) This certificate is produced for the amount in which an individual, family or group wishes to support the project. The certificates can be purchased through a direct payment to :

Cabinet organ
Attn: Church warden in Våler,
1592 Våler in Østfold,
Account number: 1083.09.15635
For further information, please contact the church warden:
Torbjørn Meyer, phone; 47 69 28 88 34


The certificate of donation is made by Bjørn R. Dechsling

Translated by Cassandra Bergstrøm
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