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Psalmodikon Timeline


Announcement of need for betterment of hymn singing within the churches. Mainly the rural church. 1815 - Norwegian publication "Music Conditions in Norway" by Lars Roverud (1777-1850)


Lars Roverud travels to Germany to study music. Learns of single stringed instrument and Sifferskrift (numerical method of reading music). 1820 - Lars Roverud travels to Denmark and meets a school teacher, Jens Worm Bruun (1781-1836). Bruun is trying to simplify music teaching by using a simple instrument, which he called a "one-stringer". This instrument is similar to the ancient Monochord instrument of Greek Philosopher Phytagoras (496 b.c.) used for measuring the mathematical relations of musical sounds.


Lars Roverud sees the Danish "one-stringer" now in Herr Winther's Music Shop in Kristiania (Oslo, Norway). Roverud becomes very interested in making improvements and hoping to use it for hymn singing. He hires Christopher Hansten, a mathematician, to measure the frets in half step increments and to mark them by number. The music can then be played using the Siffersknft method Roverud also reduced the many scales used on the Danish instrument and set up a system using transposition sticks to eliminate retuning the instrument for each song.


Lars Roverud travels to Stockholm, Sweden, to study muic and tells Johannes Dillner (1785-1962) about his Psalmodicon and how it can be used to lead in hymn singing and to teach 4 -part harmony.


Johannes Dillner writes instructions for playing the Psalmodikon and a special edition of the hymnbook is published using the Sifferskrift method.

June 15, 1835

Lars Roverud receives authorization from the Royal Resolution of the State Church to play the Psalmodikon, using the Siffersknft method, for the betterment of church singing. He also receives a grant to travel among the country churches and teach the Psalmodikon for the betterment of church singing.


Rev. Johannes Dillner is ordained into the Ostervalla Parish. He encourages his parishioners to make and play their own Psalmodikons. At this time there were over 10,000 Psalmodikons in this area and many are still in existence. The Psalmodikon of Rev. Dillner is still in the Östervåla Church today. 1840 - J. A. Lindeman (1805-1848) of Norway, publishes a book on "How to Use Psalmodicon with Music for Hymn Singing".


L. P. Esbjorn (founder of the Augustana Church Synod in America) learns to play the Psalmodikon from the wife of Pastor Olaf Forsell of the Östervåla Parish in Sweden, before he immigrates to America. 1846 - Pastor Erik Jansson, a Swedish immigrant, played the Psalmodikon and is on display at Bishop Hill, IL


Pastor Erik Norelius, a Swedish immigrant, of the Red Wing, Vasa and later St. Paul churches, writes "The Salem Singer" for Psalmodikon. Norelius' Psalmodikon is on display in Vasa, MN today.


Carl Lundgren, a Swedish traveling preacher and his Psalmodikon, or "Ladan", as he called it. Carl used the strummed chord method of playing.


McFarland, Wisconsin, Salmodicon Quartet (tape recording at University of Wisconsin). Performers: Elsie Thompson, Bertha Larson, Mrs. Herbert Flugstad and Nora Erickson.


Ardith K. Melloh, Iowa City, Iowa, researches and publishes "Grandfather's Songbooks, or the Psalmodikon in America".