Sunday, March 22, 2015

Psalmodikon pix in Jenny Lind Chapel

David Renneke, webmaster at Jenny Lind Chapel in Andover, Ill., has posted to the chapel's website a set of pictures he took on March 13 of my replica of the Rev. Lars-Paul Esbjorn's psalmodikon.

Demonstrating replica psalmodikon in museum at Jenny Lind Chapel
(please note Esbjorn's original on display case at right of photo)

Renneke's photos show the writer playing the replica, which was made by luthier Steve Endsley of Canton, Ill., and several closeups of the two instruments. Esbjorn's instrument had a single melody string and several resonant strings (resonanssträngar) that produced sympathetic vibrations -- and a fuller tone -- when the instrument was played. To see the photo collection, go to the Jenny Lind webpage at and click on the link that says "Flickr" to the right of the page.

Esbjorn's psalmodikon, which was made in Sweden and obviously is expertly crafted, was donated by the Esbjorn (Osborne) family to the Lutheran church in Andover, which met in Jenny Lind Chapel from 1850 until the present church building (Augustana) was completed in 1870. I commissioned Steve to build the replica so I can demonstrate it at a celebration of the 155th anniversary of the founding of the Augustana Synod, one of the ethnic synods that eventually merged into the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. A blurb that I wrote on my presentation for my church newsletter in Springfield follows:

Pete Ellertsen will offer a workshop on 19th-century Swedish Lutheran hymns April 25 at the Jenny Lind Chapel in Andover. Titled “Pastor Esbjorn’s Singing School,” it will feature hymns in a handwritten manuscript in the Augustana College library's collections of papers of the Rev. Lars Paul Esbjorn, a founder of the old Augustana Lutheran Synod, one of the precursors of ELCA. Pete will teach the hymns using a replica of Esbjorn’s psalmodikon (pronounced sahl-MOWD-ikon), a one-stringed box fiddle similar to a mountain dulcimer. The workshop is part of the Augustana Founders Day Reunion April 25-26, a celebration of the 155th anniversary of the founding of Augustana Synod. ELCA presiding bishop Elizabeth Eaton will speak at a service the afternoon of April 26. More information available at

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