In 1972 a new organ was built for the Julianakerk in The Hague by Vierdag from Enschede. Hans Brink made the design. Until then the builders had only constructed one and two-manual instruments, but were keen to build a ‘masterpiece’: a three-manual with pedal. For this reason Vierdag added the third manual (Borstwerk) as a gift.
Originally the pedal was to be placed in separate towers besides the Great; due to financial reasons this could not be realised. So since then the pedal is placed behind the Great.
Due to the greatly reduced numbers of churchgoers The Hague church councils had to take the difficult decision to close certain church buildings. The Julianakerk, with around 1000 seats only being filled to 5% of its capacity, was one of the chosen buildings. The last service was held in January 1997.
The Bethlehemkerk was used until 1995 by the a Nederlandse Hervormde congregation. Again, the building was far too large for the numbers of worshippers. It was decided to merge the Bethlehemkerk congregation with that of the nearby Pauluskerk.
In the Nederlandse Hervormde Kerk there is a movement known as the “Gereformeerde Bond”. The Hague Gereformeerde Bond used to meet up until 1995 in the Marcuskerk. This building was becoming too small for the growing congregation and so the large Bethlehemkerk was put to good use: the “Cathedral of the Laan van Meerdervoort” is now home to a Gereformeerde Bond congregation.
It became clear that the Van Leeuwen organ that had stood in the Bethlehemkerk since 1974 was not equal to the task of accompanying congregational singing; the organist had to use all 19 stops constantly to make any impact at all. The Vierdag organ in the Julianakerk presented the perfect solution to the problem and was chosen to succeed the Van Leeuwen instrument.
The firm of Pels & Van Leeuwen Orgelbouw from ‘s-Hertogenbosch began the disassembly of the organ in the Julianakerk in February 1997 and the magnificent instrument was used to accompany the first services in the Bethlehemkerk in June of the same year. The moving of the instrument provided a good opportunity to make several changes in the stop scheme of the organ.
Since 1931 when the Bethlehemkerk was first used this is the third instrument to be placed in the church.
Visit this page for a history of the organs in this church.
The Bethlehemkerk has its own website.