Bishop blesses newly-restored cathedral pipe organ during recital

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By Kenneth J. Souza, Anchor Staff

FALL RIVER, Mass. — Although it had already been tested in recent Liturgical celebrations earlier in the month — including the recent ordination of Father John Michael Schrader — the newly-restored 1883 vintage Hook and Hastings pipe organ that was formerly housed at Sacred Heart Church was officially blessed and dedicated by Bishop Edgar M. da Cunha, S.D.V., within the context of an organ recital inside the Cathedral of St. Mary of the Assumption on July 26.

David Carrier, former cathedral organist and current music director for the Commonwealth Chorale of Newton, christened the instrument by performing a series of selections from renowned composers such as Louis Marchard, Cesar Franck and J.S. Bach during the program.

Seated at the three-keyboard console, which had been moved front-and-center for the occasion, Carrier bowed his head as Bishop da Cunha blessed the new pipe organ. The organist then launched into a rousing rendition of “All Creatures of Our God and King” that filled the confines of the nave with a swell of music. Even the pews packed with people did little to dampen the reverberating sound of the new instrument.

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The Fall River Diocesan Choir, under the direction of Madeleine Grace, also joined in for a stirring performance of “Psalm 150.”

“I think the words of our prayers and our songs say it better than I could ever say it,” Bishop da Cunha said during remarks after the blessing. “We say in the introduction to the blessing and the prayers that the purpose of music in the Liturgy is to give glory to God and to lead us to holiness. What a beautiful thought: to give glory to God and to lead us to holiness. I wonder if every time we participate in the celebration of the Eucharist with music, if everyone is actually using music and the gift of their voice to give glory to God and to help them on the journey to holiness.”

Referencing an earlier reading from St. Paul’s Letter to the Colossians (Col 3:12-17), Bishop da Cunha noted that we are called to do everything in the name of Jesus.

“Everything is to lead us to God — music, prayers, our singing, our voices, our participation together,” Bishop da Cunha said. “So the purpose of music and the organ is not just to have a beautiful sound, not just to get people enthused and have them sit back and enjoy, but it’s really to stir the heart and the mind and lead us to connect with God and to make God the center of all that we do.”

Given the beautiful sound of the new pipe organ, the bishop noted it can be tempting to just become an audience member watching a show.

“I know we’ve all had the experience when you’ll only see a few people singing or just the choir singing or the cantor singing, and a lot of people are just sitting there watching and listening,” he said. “The music is really there for us all to participate in — to sing with the leader of the choir and to lift our hearts to God.”

“St. Augustine used to say that those who sing well pray twice,” the bishop added. “But I think the key word there is to sing well. I think that’s when we really pray twice. If we sing and it doesn’t come from the heart, we may be praying, but not necessarily twice.”

© 2017 The Anchor and Anchor Publishing  †  Fall River, Massachusetts