On Sunday, 17th March, I attended Mass at St Peter Church Malacca. This church was built in 1701 and became the oldest Catholic Church still functioning in Malaysia. In 1511 to 1641 when the Portuguese came to power, Malacca became a Christian city with the existence of a Roman Catholic Church or chapel on the streets of Malacca. In 1618 there were around 7400 Christian followers in Malacca with 14 churches and two chapels.
When Malacca fell into the hands of the Dutch in 1641, the Dutch government which was a follower of Protestant Christianity began to demolish Catholic churches which were established by the Portuguese in Malacca. Catholic priests were forbidden to preach and Catholics are persecuted.
History changed again during the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-1714), the Netherlands and the Portuguese sided with the allies (Grand Alliance) to fight French domination. After that, the Dutch colonial government abolished the policy of persecution of Catholics in Malacca and a Dutch Catholic follower named Franz Amboer was granted a plot of land for the location to establish St. Peter Church in 1710. That same year, the St Peter Church’s tower bell was completed.
I felt very fortunate to be able to record the sounds of the very old and historic St. Peter Church. I attended the mass at 9 am and when I was reprimanded by the mass officer, who knew that I turned on my portable recorder, I stopped recording the Mass in St Peter Church. After the Mass had finished, I did not go straight home, but sat in front of St Peter Church admiring the architecture of this church under the hot Malacca sun.
Then, approaching 11 o’clock I was surprised. Mass officers rang the bells of St Peter Church, and quickly I got my portable sound recorder from my bag and turn it on. I quickly recorded the sound of this bell before it stops. Finally, I managed to record about 45 seconds of the St. Peter’s bell. This was not a perfect recording because it included the sound of wind blowing and the first 15 seconds of the recording sound was at peak, because I did not have time to make any preparations. However, this imperfect recording felt so valuable. At least I could clean it in post-production later on to eliminate the sound of wind blowing and adjust the volume. I was very happy to be able to get the sound of this bell, because this bell was very old and historical. You can listen the quality of the bell sound. It’s not ‘perfect’ bell, little bit cracky sound but very beautiful. Compare to many big church in Europe, the position of the bell is not so high, so we can feel that dimension also in this recording. According to historical records, the bells of St Peter Church were made in Goa in 1608, and were saved during the Dutch conquest.