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Historic Church Completed After 106 Years

Historic Church Completed After 106 Years

After 106 years St Matthew-in-the-City is finally completed! The loft constructed to hold organ pipes has never been filled until now. Henry Willis & Sons has finished installing a pipe organ that has been in construction in their Liverpool factory since April 2008. While like a new instrument, it is a major enhancement and restoration of the historical Father Willis organ that served the original wooden church that preceded the present stone church.

It has been a labour of love by David Wyld, Managing Director of Henry Willis & Sons, who said of it, “It was our intent to build the finest church organ in New Zealand if not the Southern Hemisphere. We think we have succeeded.”

Vicar Glynn Cardy said, “After years of dreaming and raising funds for its construction, it is an immense joy to hear its brilliant sound fill the sanctuary. We are eternally grateful to the many who have been involved to make this day happen. We are especially indebted to the ASB Trust, Southern Trust, the Lottery Grants Board and The Lion Foundation for their grants that made this possible.”

Michael C.W. Bell, St Matthew’s organist and Director of Music, could hardly contain his excitement, “It feels like the Christmas of all Christmases”

While the organ can be used at church services, it will not be ready for a public recital for about six months. Mr Wyld explains, “With an instrument as complex as this, it takes that long for it to settle in and work out the kinks.”

While its full potential will not be realised for awhile, Mr Cardy announced, “The organ will be dedicated on 25 September, the Feast of St Matthew, at the 10:00am service. At the same time we will dedicate the historic St Thomas Chapel and new kitchen that were part of this overall project.”

St Thomas Chapel began as the chapel on a missionary ship that served Melanesia from 1903 to 1932. When the Southern Cross V sank in Waitemata Harbour, the chapel was rescued and became the Lady Chapel at St Thomas’, Freeman Bay. When St Thomas’ was torn down for the motorway leading to the Harbour Bridge, it was stored in the crypt of St Matthew’s where it stayed for the next 45 years. Under the guidance of Salmond Reed Architects it has been carefully reconstructed in the south transept as it was on board the Southern Cross.

The new kitchen replaces the one that had to be removed to make room for the 32-foot pipes that are part of the enhancement of the historic organ.

The public is invited to attend the dedication. To mark the occasion, Michael Bell has composed “Mass for the Patronal Feast.” It will be sung for the first time at the service by the St Matthew Ensemble, under the direction of Dmitry Rusakov, the Associate Director of Music.


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