It is part of traditional Christian belief that worshippers join the angels singing the heavenly praises of the Lord. Anyone who shares in the celebration of the liturgy or attends a church concert in St. Nikolai's would understand that belief. By contrast, during evening meditations, the inner quietness of the church spreads over the noises from Südermarkt and climbs up the high vaults.
St. Nikolai is home to one of the most important late renaissance organs of northern Germany. Commissioned by the Danish king Christian IV the instrument was built in 1604-1609 by Nicolaus Maaß, organ builder to the Danish court in Copenhagen.
The huge (15 m height and 7 m width) and elaborately carved organ case is a masterpiece by Flensburgian wood-carver Heinrich Ringeringk. The case is classified as a national cultural monument. The instrument was refurbished and enlarged by Arp Schnitger into a baroque organ in 1709/10. After heavy damage by fire the organ was re-constructed and enlarged for symphonic music by organ builder Marcussen from Abenraa (Denmark) in 1878. Unfortunately after 1920 haphazard renovation seriously vitiated the instrument and increasingly caused heavy technical problems.
So in 1996 the Parish Council commissioned the internationally respected master organ builder Gerald Woehl from Marburg to work on an ambitious project: to create the world's first combined organ in which two different instruments (baroque and romantic) are housed together:
In the historical case an organ is being built to reproduce the style and sound of the 1709 Schnitger organ
, with its classic baroque tuning and lively »breathing« with air supplied from 3 traditional wedge bellows. This instrument is perfect to create the authentic sound of North German baroque music. 3 manuals and pedal are located on the organ gallery.