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Opinons divide on new Macau organ

Crucifix and Marian statue give way to 11-meter tall organ in Lazarus church

The new organ installed at the sanctuary of the Lazarus Church. The crucifix, tabernacle and Marian statue have had to give way to the huge instrument The new organ installed at the sanctuary of the Lazarus Church. The crucifix, tabernacle and Marian statue have had to give way to the huge instrument
  • ucanews.com reporter, Macau
  • Macau
  • May 9, 2011
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The Lazarus Church has become the first parish of Macau diocese to install a pipe organ but not all parishioners are happy.

The 11-meter-tall organ stands erect at the back of the altar, occupying one-third of the sanctuary’s floor area.

Not all parishioners appreciate where this “king of musical instruments” is currently installed as it disrupts their focus from the crucifix and tabernacle.

The pipe organ, which has three keyboards, 37 stops and 2,455 pipes, is currently the largest musical instrument in Macau.

With the pipe organ being installed and blessed in late April, the sanctuary has had to be rearranged. A new tabernacle remains in the center but on a shorter stand against the organ. The Our Lady of Hope statue, patron of the parish and the finest Marian statue in Macau, is put further aside. The crucifix is now hung on the arch above the sanctuary. All of them have become relatively small comparing with the giant instrument.

One visitor, known as Peng, commented: “As a performance venue, the church looks much more magnificent now.”

It is not a bad thing if it can help Catholics to understand the importance of sacred music and to express their adoration to God, she noted.

“The question is: can the organ lead Mass attendees to get closer to God and is it just an ornament that is rarely played?” Peng used to sit at the transept when attending Mass and she feels upset that the crucifix is not in view any more.

Another parishioner, Teresa, suggested hanging the crucifix in mid-air above the altar so that people could once again concentrate their minds on praying instead of looking at the organ when they attend Mass.

Bishop Jose Lai Hung-seng of Macau said the pipe organ was donated to the Lazarus Church by a benefactor and fixing the crucifix on the arch is a trial move.

The parish may consider moving it back to the front of the altar and highlighting it, he said, adding that parishioners are welcomed to propose ideas.

Bishop Lai hoped the organ would be played at every Mass. “We will invite experts to teach the choirs’ pianists.” The chapel of St. Joseph’s Seminary will also continue to open for people to practise playing the organ, which is located on the choir balcony.

The bishop admitted maintenance is a big problem as the humid and hot climate here may affect the quality. If it works well, the diocese would consider installing the instrument for other churches in future, he said.

The diocese is willing to allow the Cultural Affairs Bureau to borrow the Lazarus Church to hold classical concerts, he added.

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