GEL Church on Main Road in Ranchi. Picture by Hardeep Singh
The Yuletide spirit will miss a happy note in Ranchi this year.
The 168-year-old Gossner Evangelical Lutheran Church — GEL Church to thousands of faithful — on Main Road will host the midnight mass, choir and carols on December 24 without the harmonious accompaniment of its pipe organ.
The church, which was expecting a new, sophisticated musical instrument as a gift from German Lutherans by early December, will have to wait till month-end for its arrival and till next year for its installation that requires expert supervision.
“According to the original plan, the organ was to arrive in Calcutta by ship in the first week of this month and then be brought to Ranchi by road. Technicians from Germany were expected to complete installation before Christmas Day. But, there has been a change of plan. Though the organ will arrive in Ranchi by December, it will be commissioned only in 2014,” said Nelson Lakra, the moderator of GEL Church.
Lakra, who was in Germany from October 10 to 27 to participate in a series of meetings of the World Lutheran Council as a part of their centenary preparations for an autonomous church, said he was informed during his stay that the technicians could not visit Ranchi before March.
“A new programme has been drawn up in the wake of this unforeseen development. Since the new pipe organ will be commissioned in March, we have decided to have a formal inauguration. The Bishop of Riesenburg, Germany, will do the honours in October,” the moderator revealed.
Lakra further said that in anticipation of the electronically operated organ, the old, manual one — which was 8ft tall, 5ft wide and took up the entire first floor landing — had already been dispatched to GEL Church, Rajgangpur, in Odisha in September this year.
“We were hoping for some new sound of music this month. To facilitate quick installation of the German church organ, we gifted the old one to Rajgangpur. We will have to celebrate our Christmas 2013 without an organ,” he said with an unmistakable hint of sadness in his voice.
On whether the absence of instrumental music would dampen the Xmas spirit, Lakra took heart and pointed out that many of its churches were not equipped with pipe organs at all.
“Besides, in rural areas, even if churches have electronically operated organs, erratic power supply often forces them to lie idle. It is, therefore, irrelevant if the instrument accompanies the choir. The Christmas spirit can never be dampened by the presence or absence of a musical gear,” the moderator stressed.