In the U.S., block or street parties are normally held either during spring or fall seasons of the year. Block parties are undertaken primarily to give the community of a particular neighborhood a chance to be together and get acquainted of their respective culture and tradition. In NYC, it is observed that in a specific neighborhood for instance, people from all walks of life get together in a non-political event setting and socialize among themselves, an opportunity to gain new friends and raise public's awareness of how diverse the community is.
Our parish community held a block party for its parishioners and friends last week with rides, games, beer garden, food, entertainment and music for all. It was like a mini-international heritage day, as people from all walks of life came, to show case their native food, culture and traditions from their countries of origin. We all know that NYC has amazing community, just like our parish, composed of migrants from all corners of the globe. Everyone was cooperative and excited to prepare for the party and some of them donated food to share and sell them at a discount, proceeds of which accrued to the parish for worthy causes. While the weather during the day was erratic, warm and sunny day in the morning, with scattered rain showers in the late afternoon, overall it was a success. There were some entertainment, a music band, a choir and some folk dances for the crowd to see.
Take a peek of what our parish offered in the party.
It was fortunate that Harold Camping's rapture prophecy which fell on the same day didn't come true. Otherwise, there could have been no party at all! Only God knows when is Judgment Day, right folks? The only judgment which came after the event was that your poor blogger friend didn't win the raffle prize, a brand new IPAD 2, which would have been useful in her blogging activities. (sigh!)
By the way the light dance, according to the audience was superb, classy and exquisite!!! Hooray guys!!!
Each of us is endowed with unique capabilities, gifts and talents. The difference would be on how we unleash and use the said talents. Normally, these talents are innate in us, it comes naturally and since it is a gift that is bestowed on us by God, regardless of our beliefs, we're supposed to hone and give it back to glorify Him and eventually share the same with others through various ways.
Having a good singing voice is one of the many natural attributes given us. By singing, you get to learn to speak to people, be it in small or large crowds, entertain them, gain new friends, admirers or even your own fans if you're in the entertainment business. However, there are other singers, despite of lack of formal education in music, are called to serve God by becoming a composer or arranger of spiritual songs, a preacher thru Gospel songs, a parish musical director, a choir head or simply a member. Talent in singing and other related field in music (e.g. playing musical instruments) are gifts to us which can be applied in church related activities and if we have these, we should be grateful and generous enough to share the same as not everyone is gifted with such a natural treasure. Just like any talent, each one has to develop, sharpen and partake it with everyone to make it more purposeful. As mentioned in myusefultips previous blog on choir organization, singing God's praises in any forum be it in the liturgy or in other spiritual group gatherings, is likened to praying twice especially if you sing the said songs from the heart.
There are only a few of versatile song writers and singers of spiritual songs throughout the world who have been blessed to be able to inspire people, particular the young ones, either to do the same thing as they do or just bring them closer to the Lord .
One example is Mr. Steve Angrisano, an American who has been very dynamic and mobile from the time he was laden with such a responsibility to proclaim God's words through his songs and by singing the same and other liturgical songs. The same is true with Mr. Arnel de Pano (not the other “Arnel” of Journey!), a Filipino who writes and sings for the LORD as well. Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against Arnel Pineda, also a Filipino. I admire him as well for being such a total performer. For those who doesn't know Arnel Pineda as of yet, the guy is the lead vocalist of the famous American rock band “Journey”.
I was fortunate to attend two separate concerts and witness the performances of Msrrs. Angrisano and de Pano here in NYC and yep, they do possess good vocals . Both of these guys are veteran song writers and articulate as well. They both exude happy and pleasing personalities, reflective of their love for the Lord. Two of the more popular songs of Steve Angrisano which I've heard in church are “Go Make a Difference” and “Sweet Redeemer” (one of my favorites). For Arnel de Pano, he was able to compose and arrange a beautiful song, “Lead Me Lord”, which is popular for some choir groups, and some other equally magnificent pieces.
The photos below may not do justice to their songs but the message they would like to convey to us makes it more substantial. These guys indeed utilized their talents the right way! The real Maestros!
I thought this article would document in a way the first Filipino Mass ever performed in NY Ozone Park’s St. Mary Gates of Heaven Church’ (SMGHC), in its over 100 years of existence. SMGHC has welcomed another community to celebrate the Holy Mass in their native language, the first of which was held on December 29,2010, and the second one on February 6, 2011. It was wonderful to see all “Pinoy” parishioners flocking to the Church and celebrating the said event with some merry making and food to share after the Mass. Such occasion affirmed the Church commitment to make and feel its parishioners connected and “at home”, as if they are in their native land!
In coordination with the Diocese of Brooklyn and Queens, the Church administration has also approved the proposal to hold Mass in Pilipino or Tagalog once a month in the said Church or every 1st Sunday of the month. This is a significant milestone in SMGHC’s history and also to Filipino migrants living within the Ozone Park and the nearby Richmond Hill areas as they would now have the opportunity to attend Mass in their native tongue. A walking distance from SMHGC, the Church of the Holy Child Jesus likewise holds mass in Tagalog or Pilipino language every 2nd Sunday of the month. Thus, with this development, there would be now two Filipino masses that will be held every month within the vicinity of the said areas.
It feels great and likewise a blessing for our choir to be part of this momentous event. Our choir is relatively in its infancy stage but we hope to develop talents and add new stuffs to the group from both Churches parishioners. I could say that with the way it is presently going coupled with a sense of commitment and dedication to the service from the members, the group is pretty evolving to deliver a more vibrant, exciting and correct way of singing liturgical music despite constraints.
(photo property of myusefultips.com – not for reproduction)
Presently, SMGHC has diverse parishioners with over thousands of families composing the church. It is being administered by the Missionaries of the Company of Mary, also known as Montfort Missionaries, a catholic religious congregation which originated in France in the 18th century.
Upon entering the Church edifice, I was surprised to see some unique features which make it amazingly beautiful! Personally, I was awed by the altar’s beauty and architecture with the statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary as the backdrop. It's large and spacious like a mini St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan! But of course how can I miss to mention the elevated choir loft at the left side of the church! I liked it so much especially its acoustic properties and the sound system which made the choir’s voices much better!
Fr. Richard Magararu a Montfort Filipino priest on U.S. mission played a pivotal role to make this occasion realizable and successful. So, Fr. Richard, kudos for the job well done and may God continue to bless you more with courage to preach the good news not only to your home countrymen but to all of the parishioners as well, especially those in need!
(photo property of myusefultips.com-not for reproduction)
I recall my first Simbang Gabi (or Mass at Dawn) in NYC, I braved the winter chills and the snowy weather just to complete the 9-day novena mass. That was quite a sacrifice for me as I have to travel for an hour after a busy day just to make it there on time. As a matter of fact I was constrained to write something about it as a memento as it was my very first in a foreign land and after a long respite from attending the celebration. Fortunately, the said write-up was published in one of the newsletters of one of the local community groups here in NYC. I could have just re-posted it here to give you a glimpse of what the tradition is all about, regrettably however, the draft has already been deleted from the files and the copy of the newsletter where it was posted has already been archived or disposed of.
While Simbang Gabi’s literal meaning in English is “Midnight or Evening Mass”, it is however translated and notably called Dawn Mass. But in NYC, Simbang Gabi is not exactly held at dawn or in the wee hours of the morning for obvious reasons (e.g. cold weather, etc.) unlike in other countries like Mexico and the Philippines where it is normally held early hours in the morning usually at 4:00 a.m.. Do you know that this tradition began in Mexico in late 1500’s and this is normally culminated by the so-called Misa de Gallo or Mass of the Gifts?
The Simbang Gabi is actually held 9 days before Christmas (could be Dec. 15 or 16 depending on circumstances) but the annual celebration at St. Patrick’s Cathedral is normally held either the first Sunday of December or the first Sunday of Advent. It kicks-off in effect, sort of a sneak preview of, all Simbang Gabi celebrations around NYC!
Two nights ago, I attended the 2010 Annual Simbang Gabi at the St.Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan. The theme for this year was “Ang Belen” or “The Nativity Scene”: “A Picture Perfect for Obedience and Humility.
One of our groups was among the choir which rendered the liturgical music together with musical talents such as violinists and up-and-coming singers. It was a well represented choir, there was one from the Queens Borough, The Himig at Alay Choir, another from Bronx, The Santa Maria Choir and one from Manhattan, The Ka-Lungsod ni San Lorenzo Choir from the San Lorenzo Ruiz Church.
Most of the songs were Christmas and Advent related hymns, in preparation for Christ’s coming, examples of which were “Gloria in Excelsis Deo”, "Silent Night" and "Gumising". It was actually like Christmas Eve already as the atmosphere and the people around were in jovial and festive mood. In fact, the mass celebrant, His Eminence Cardinal Edward Egan, was pleased to see the kids’ participants dressed like angels and shepherds.
(photos are properties of www.myusefultips.com)
It was also nice to see majoirty of the Filipino priests serving in NYC concelebrating the mass, with Fr.Joseph Marabe incidentally as the one spearheading the event. During the offertory procession, the community offered monetary and non-monetary items which could then be donated to the needy.
(photos are properties of www.myusefultips.com)
I understand food was everywhere for everyone but since I called it a night, I left early without having a taste of the yummy native delicacies served on the table – sigh!
(photos property of www.myusefultips.com)
While there were some glitches which have been observed during the celebration, it was quite successful however in general.
(photos are properties of www.myusefultips.com)
It is noteworthy that the Simbang Gabi tradition continues regardless of where we are. What’s imperative however, is what is inside our hearts, it is neither our plan to complete the 9-day novena nor the thought that we really have to do it because we were used to it. There’s a profounder meaning to it, it is something about our faith in God, in the right manner as much as possible. Since Simbang Gabi is celebrated during the Advent season, we are actually requested to prepare and be watchful for Jesus’ coming. And the preparation would entail good deeds, not limiting it to the family circle, but to everyone, especially those in need. Obedience and humility is this year’s Simbang Gabi theme and it simply shows the significance of Jesus giving up Himself for His love for us, and choosing to be born unnoticed in a lowly manger.
The said nativity scene should serve as our model on how to make our lives more significant, particularly in this age of plenty and consumerism/materialism. I ‘m going to say it once again, I know it is difficult to be holy these days, and I for one is struggling very hard to be good and not to remain deaf and blind to the cries of people dying of hunger, thirst, war, disease, domestic violence and terrorism.
I hope my dear readers let's try to exert our best efforts to respond to to this plea! I wish you all a Happy and Meaningful Advent!
For Catholics worldwide, the month of October is dedicated to Our Lady of the Holy Rosary. It is one of the major Marian feast days particularly for devotees of the Blessed Virgin Mary and believers of the significance and powers of the Holy Rosary.
The feast day of Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary of Manaoag likewise falls in October and is consistently celebrated by Filipino migrants throughout the United States, particularly the natives of Manaoag, Pangasinan, a town which is about more than 100 miles north of Manila.
The original image of Our Lady of Manaoag is currently enshrined at the Church of Our Lady of Manaoag, where throngs of devotees and pilgrims visit every day.
It is reported that the image of Our Lady has performed miracles based on various testimonies inscribed at the said church’ murals and accounts by people who have received tremendous help and favors granted.
Almost all of the parishes in the United States where Filipinos are present and actively involved in the Apostolate would normally celebrate the feast day of Our Lady of Manaoag. There were parishes like Our Lady of Pompei and the Immacualte Conception Church which commemorated the feast of Our Lady of Manaoag in the month of May.
However, at the Church of the Holy Child Jesus, the heads of the Filipino Apostolate decided to celebrate it last October 10, which coincides with the month of the feast of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary. A nine-day novena with the recitation of the Holy Rosary commenced the celebration.
A small replica of Our Lady of Manaoag , owned by Kuya Cesar and Ate Linda Quitalig, was present during the novena.
We were also privileged to be visited by the beautiful image of Our Lady of Manaoag dressed in “gold” robe during the day of the mass itself, courtesy of Mr. Michael Calicdan.
It was a special celebration as there was a coronation ceremony led by Mr. and Mrs. Oscar Guerrero and flower offering which were made part of the liturgy. The Holy Child Jesus (HCJ) Fil.-choir in their native Filipina dress and barong Tagalog rendered the liturgical songs and showed their wonderful talents during the entire ceremony, with the Himig Heswita’s version of Ave Maria Gratia Plena, as one of the highlights.
HCJ's FilAm choir tenors and basses
version of Ave Maria Gratia Plena, as one of the highlights.
The celebration last October 24, 2010 at St. Lucy’s Church in Manhattan may be considered as the culminating activity for the feast day of Our Lady of Manaoag in NYC. The event was organized by the Our Lady of Manaoag Society of America, led by its President Nida Cortez.. Mr. and Mrs. Ernesto and Rixie Tagle were the current Hermano/Hermana Mayores, respectively. The sponsors were the Board of Directors of Philippine Independence Day Council, Inc. (PIDCI) and the community representatives.
OLM image photo taken at St. Lucy Church, different from the one crowned at HCJ(courtesy of www.myusefultips.com)
Apart from the holy mass which was officiated by Most Rev. Oscar Aquino,JCD, other highlights of the celebration included the Blessing of the Medals. Installation of the Hermano and Hermana and the Sponsors, with the Investiture of Medals and Installation of Sashes, and the Crowning Ceremony.
It was a remarkable celebration, not because the church was jam packed with devotees and parishioners, but because of the 4 musical groups that offered and shared their talents, not only from FilAms but by foreigners as well. There was this amazing rendition of the liturgical songs by the Himig at Alay Music Ministry led by our friend Philip
the interpretation of Mr. Bob Kennaway, an American tenor, of the song “How Great Thou Art”,
the sax instrumental version of Ave Maria by a Venezuelan guy and the communion song “Lead Me Lord” by a few of the members of San Lorenzo/St. Lucy Choir.
(Venuezuelan man in the background)
As a matter of fact, Msgr. Aquino related one of the songs about God’s greatness that He gave us Blessed Mary, who is just like us, to be the Mother of Jesus, the Savior of the World.
Just like any other gatherings, the two feast day celebrations which I’ve witnessed both concluded with the partaking of food donated by devotees, line dance and the merriment. I would say, all of these could serve as ways of Our Lady giving back her gratefulness to us too!
Dedicated volunteers during HCJ's Our Lady of Manaoag fellowship (courtesy of www.myusefultips.com)
Line Dance activity during HCJ's OLM fellowship (courtesy of www.myusefultips.com)
Line dance activity at St. Lucy's social hall (courtesy of www.myusefultips.com)
Our Lady of Manaog is “canonically crowned image of our Lady of the Holy Rosary, duly recognized by the Vatican and enshrined in a church under the Dominican Order in the Philippines".
For Filipino migrants in the United States, particularly in NYC’s Queens area , the enthronement of San Lorenzo Ruiz (SLR) at the Holy Child Jesus (HCJ) Church was truly a blessing!
When HCJ’s Parish Administrator (Rev. Father Francis Colamaria) met with the Filipino leadership apostolate two months ago and discussed about plans for SLR’s image enthronement in the church, there was no hesitation at all from both sides!. Said plan was actually opportune and timely as the enthronement was to be undertaken within the centennial celebration period of HCJ, which made it more signficant. The installation of SLR’s 4-ft. image at HCJ may serve as spiritual emblem of the Filipino immigrants and overseas Filipino workers’ (specifically those residing in the vicinity) not only with respect to their commitment and dedication to their faith outside their homeland but also keeping their culture and tradition alive. His image may likewise pose as part of their many “sounding board” saints at the Church, so to speak, of their joys and sorrows while away from their loved ones.
(photo property of www.myusefultips.com)
The two-month preparation was a long wait but it was worthwhile as the outcome turned out to be much successful. The nine-day devotional prayer novena to San Lorenzo held at HCJ's Leonard Center jump started the feast day celebration.
(photo property of www.myusefultips.com)
Highlights of the special occasion included the mass, procession and the enthronement. The mass celebration on September 26th was humble yet solemn. It was officiated by five priests (four of whom are Filipinos from the Diocese of Brooklyn/Queens) and one deacon, with the Parish Administrator as the main celebrant.
Majority of the parishioners accounts revealed that the liturgical songs rendered by the joint singing venture of HCJ ‘s Filipino Choir and Our Lady of Snows Himig at Alay Group sounded great and worth hearing on and on, and on! Humility aside, it was well applauded, after a special mention from the Parish Administrator!
Thereafter, a procession of the image ensued.
(photo property of www.myusefultips.com)
The weather was friendly and cooperative as there was enough sunlight and the cool autumn breeze provided a refreshing and relaxing
comfort while walking around the blocks of 86th Avenue , to 111th St, then Myrtle Ave , up to 112th St. and back inside the church for the enthronement of the image at the Adoration Chapel of the Church.
. (photo property of www.myusefultips.com)
For the choir, it was a memorable event as they’ve rendered a non-stop singing of San Lorenzo Hymns (San Libong Buhay or A Thousand Lives) and San Lorenzo Martir or St. Lorenzo, Martyr) throughout the procession
until they had reached the altar for the enthronement. That was amazing! Such powerful vocal cords! Where did it emanate
from? Maybe, it was San Lorenzo’s way of thanking them for sharing their musical talents with him with so much "gusto"!
A simple fellowship and celebration followed with all of the attendees partaking the food blessed by the priest! What a remarkable day! Once again, kudos to the organizers, volunteers, choir and the key players of this event.
(photo property of www.myusefultips.com)
The choir with Fr. Gody, the Coordinator of the Fil. Diocesan Apostolate of the Diocese of Brooklyn, for a souvenir pose!.
May I end this blog with an excerpt from one of SLR’s life story:
“During one of Ruiz’ interrogations, a judge asked him a question if he will denounce his faith. The response was categorical and immediate: “That I will never do, because I am a Christian, and I shall die for God, and for Him I will give many thousand lives if I had them. And so do with me as you please.”
By the way, San Lorenzo is the patron saint of immigrants.
Back in my home country, I hardly experience the so-called “line dancing” perhaps due to the nature of my previous work and the lack of time for extracurricular activities.
I was relatively new in the U.S. when line dance (LD) was introduced to me by a hometown-mate at a festival. I wasn’t pretty much attracted to it at first because I didn’t have the drive in knowing it just then. It is not that I don’t have the knack for dancing, as a matter of fact at some point in my younger days, I get to be invited in dance troupes. It is also worth noting that I came from a place where merry making, dancing and singing are quite known and considered as an integral part of people’s social life, regardless of age, status, gender, profession and the like. Some of the professional ones even excel on this and at a world class level!
It took a couple of years for me to appreciate the dance and finally nailed it to a “T”. As they say, LD is ubiquitous, it's ever-present, always performed in any party or gathering here in the U.S.. I get the chance to see it wherever I go, be it in fellowships, weddings, birthdays,
anniversaries and any kind of celebration.
In fact, various parishes in NYC have acknowledged and took cognizant of the fact that a once-a-week activity could bring together the people to socialize, foster camaraderie among parishioners and gain new friends from all ages, from all walks of life. As such, it was impossible for me not to recognize the value and the importance of the said activity especially to migrants who want to preserve and convey their cultural identity.
As part of our apostolate in our Parish and in line with our goals for the choir, I took the initiative this summer together with the leadership and the other members to discuss and informally organize an LD fitness on Fridays for the members and co-parishioners. I thought LD was a neat form of exercise and recreation especially after a long and hard day from our respective daily norms. Believe me, I get to sweat heavily and it makes me feel a lot better and this is also the feedback I got from the rest of the participants.
It surely releases the unwanted pounds and the unnecessary fats and cholesterols from our bodily systems. LD is a better alternative to swimming, a way of exercise which is rarely or can never be done in a frigid zone like the U.S. Likewise, it could pave the way to raise funds (for the parish/choir needs) via voluntary donations from generous hearts and souls! We're fortunate to belong to a Parish which is very sup[portive and kind enough to accommodate our request and provide us a space for our dancing activities.
So far, the activity has been blessed with a very dedicated, committed and seasoned line dance instructor. She patiently taught us a repertoire of music and dance steps, even with those with two left feet was able to make it! Isn’t it great?
The more favorite ones are the dance steps to the tune of Totoy Bibo, Todo Todo, Cumba Semana, Baila Chili Chacha, September, Mama Maria, I Have A Dream, Waltz, Tango and the like. Dance steps are basically a combination of chacha, jazz box, meringue, shuffle, mambo, waltz, tango, soul, boogie, and a lot more. There are still remaining in the pipeline, I just forgot some of the titles of the songs.
I would say that the line dancing activity that we’ve recently ventured into is truly God’s blessing and hopefully said blessing will continue to thrive. Apart from providing us fun and enjoyment, it also gives us the opportunity to give our talents back to the Giver, making everyone happy gliding once again on the dance floor!
The whole experience is actually fun and rewarding. It is relatively easy to dance, so why don’t you give a try yourself. Take it from me, you wont regret it!
*line dance is choreographed dance with a repeated sequence of steps in which a group of people dance in one or more lines or rows without regard for the gender of the individuals, all facing the same direction, and executing the steps at the same time.(as defined in Wikipedia)
Almost five months ago, our choir grew from 1 to 13 members and it has even flourished to 20 more or less. However, as time goes by, the group experienced some ups and downs: a few have expressed to leave for family and work-related reasons and to pursue studies while others just couldn’t attend rehearsals on full time basis so as to focus on personal matters. While I do recognize the fact that these incidents happen naturally in any organization, I didn’t expect that things will go down hill too soon. I thought it was normal to be sad for I would miss the good old days and a bit apprehensive for our choir’s development and future performances. Because of my commitment for the choir, however, I brushed the negativities aside and decided to face the challenges and keep it going, i.e. continue to develop our voices and sing lovingly for the Lord. I considered this a blessing!
It is truly wonderful that whenever our choir needs something, God is always there to provide. As choir members leave, new relatively good singers join and so our repertoire. There was one time that members from other choir groups have to join to share with us and strengthen our musical talents and it was successful. Teamwork and cooperation among the group made it happen. It was well-applauded and the congregatioin has greatly appreciated our performance, pleased of the outcome. There was even one comment I received that she felt good about our singing, particularly the last song in the line up , that she even felt goose bumps rising upon her! Gee! That was awesome!
There is nothing wrong in sharing one’s talent with other choir groups and this is where generosity and humility come in. The so-called “reinforcement” via temporary or permanent guest vocal coaches, music teachers, keyboardists, and singers are and will always be warmly welcome in our choir. (photos are personal properties of www.myusefultips.com)
The beauty of this kind of structure is that you are given the opportunity to learn new stuffs, share each other materials and bring in bright perspectives about the craft. And most importantly, there is also a chance to gain new friends who equally share the same passion to sing praises for the Lord and willing to build the so-called camaraderie among the members. And that is imperative in any choir organization.
As I previously said, our choir has been blessed to have members who have no choir singing experience before but are dedicated to come regularly and on time for the rehearsal. At present, we are also blessed to have someone who has that love and zeal for music, to accompany us in our singing with no "frills and laces", no terms and conditions. Isn’t it great? That’s another blessing!
Last Sunday, we had our first joint musical performance held at Our Lady of Snows in Queens, NY for the feast day of St. Rocco (or San Roque). We went to the venue with convoy of cars courtesy of the members on their own volition. Just like any musical event, there is always a warm-up exercise which takes more or less an hour before the actual performance. Here take a look of how the choir members were so dedicated in their craft.
It was a solemn con-celebrated mass with 4 priests officiating it. I observed the choir was hesitant at first to give their all but eventually they showed their prowess and their love for singing for the Lord. Here. enjoy browsing at some of the photos taken during and after the mass.
Devotees of St. Rocco.
The priest expressed a very inspiring and encouraging comment on the choir's performance, to the extent of informing us that someday he'll bring us to Rome! St. Peter's Basilica? Did I hear it right, or was I day dreaming! (pinch, pinch, pinch!)
Look at them, even after the mass, the singing continued!
It is indeed true that for as long as there is still one member standing, there is still hope and a future for the choir group.
Please drop a line for me on your thoughts about this post!
By the way, our singing comrades are from the Himig at Alay Music Ministry. Applause, applause, applause!
Our next music gigs are on September 11 and 12 , a benefit concert for the 9/11 victims and the Fil mass at HCJ. Watch for it guys!
Hello, folks, I’m here again to blog about the subject. Please bear with me, if I may sound like so excited to give you updates on how our choir is doing. It is just so amazing how God answers prayers – indeed, sometimes in really strange unexpected ways, right?
As in some choir groups, our newly formed choir is made up of busy volunteers from our parish who view their membership as a stewardship of their 3T’s, time, treasure and talent? Rather than being with their respective families during weekends, the members find time to be with the group for rehearsals despite their hectic lifestyles, even to the extent of shelling out green bucks from their own pockets for the good of the choir. Oh yes, I would say this is the kind of choir members who are readily available and reliable in so many ways. Such good souls! Someone up there may just be so proud of them.
Thus, in exchange for their goodness and generosity, I would like to share this to my colleagues and to you guys out there whose passion is to be of service to the community thru singing.
Did you know that there are plenty of benefits that choir members get from joining choir groups? You will just be thrilled of the surprising gains from joining a choir and these include the following, among others:
1. It promotes positive attitude – Attending choir rehearsals regularly and praising the Almighty thru singing bring the brighter side of life and eliminate the negative things that dwell in you. When you go inside the choir practice room and see the warm smiles and happy faces of the people around welcoming you, the positive energy is just palpable and the effect makes you feel better. The song itself, especially the spiritual songs can inspire the choir member and can lift up her/his mood.
2. It creates camaraderie and fellowship among the members – It is not only the pleasure of singing that you get from being a member of a choir, but also the bonding experience. I have noticed that our choir members have become friends and there seems to have a genuine involvement with each other’s lives, real concern, interest and support.
3. It reduces stress, tension and depression – Some of the choir members may neither be actively involved in church activities nor are very religious, but they just love to sing. When they mingle with the more spiritually inclined people, they yearn to be more spiritual – be more closer to God and may become immune to stress and tension.
Likewise, it has been proven by scientific studies that when you sing, you give yourselves doses of “natural medicine”, specifically when you sing with passion. Learning and singing new songs helps one to keep the brain young and alert, thus providing significant benefits to a person’s body and mind.
Perhaps, you may have heard this before from your music teachers or from medical practitioners that singing or playing certain musical instruments (e.g. trumpet, horn, flute, or any related instrument) is in fact good for your respiratory system. A friend once told me that her doctor has encouraged her to continue joining the choir, both as a therapy and an interest, and also as a form of exercise for her lungs and diaphragm.
4. Choir rehearsals enhance the choir members’ vocal skills. As the old adage say, “practice makes perfect”.
Additionally, a choir member tends to be more expressive and her artistic ability is even more enhanced. Joining a choir gives also the member the opportunity to gain new insights and experience musical enjoyment in a supportive atmosphere.
5. Joining church choir gives choir members’ a sense of belonging in the church and the parish community as well.
Last but not the least and on a lighter note, when you join a church choir, you’re in a wonderful spot to see the full gothic inside view of the church, to observe the regular and the new parishioners, and most especially the opportunity to receive the Body of Christ ahead of everyone. Such a great privilege!
Hey, if you have the talent and the genuine willingness to share said talent, go and approach your parish music ministry head and I wish you a Happy Singing!
Last February, I received a communication from the Apostolate requesting me to guide and lead the singing during the mass. Wow, what an effortless request! But little did I know that it was a form of spiritual leadership accompanied by a critical responsibility brought upon on my shoulder.
What could I say? How could I say no to the call for help for God’s glory? I simply responded in affirmative, and everything started there! I thought that was one way of touching me to be of help to others in the humblest way I can, which incidentally is one of my advocacies in life.
As a brief backgrounder, my choir experience dates back during my childhood days. My kids buddies and I used to sing as members of the choir and it can be attributed to our love for any kind of music, from pop to slow rock and …..the liturgical music! I learned my church songs, first from my parents, then from my older siblings, my music teachers who were nuns in our school and from the church where I used to go. But my love for music didn’t stop there, it evolved and it continued up to these days.
As I prayed for God’s guidance, the present responsibility wasn’t a burden at all. Humility aside, I can sing with a little knowledge of playing the guitar. At first, some generous people from the other parish showed up to help in the singing, then the second time with only one. But with God’s blessings, the group blossomed with more or less 15 people volunteering to be part of the team. In all honesty, I felt a sense of relief and the assurance from someone up above that everything will be all right! I realized that the success of the choir does not depend on the person leading it, her talents, her skills but on God’s keeping control of it. And that makes it amazing!
Our kick-off meeting/rehearsal really went well, probably because the members are musically gifted in their own rights but I believe they were also commissioned to be part of the new choir. We started our rehearsal with a prayer and some kid stuffs as part of our agenda. And thereafter the rehearsal began. I say, Amen. Welcome and congratulations to the new members! From one to 15 members – a combination of the young at hearts and the real young ones with the youngest member, Erynn who is only 6 years old! That makes it even more amazing!
As a sense of duty, I felt the need to share series of thoughts and knowledge gained since childhood days from previous choir masters who were experts and considered “maestros” in the field of music. Most probably some of the members may know this already but for purposes of reminding everyone, I would like to share the first batch of the said thoughts with my colleagues and other “newbies” out there who are contemplating to organize one and/or simply be a member of a choir.
“Singing is Praying Twice”
I have heard this over and over again as far as church choir singing is concerned. According to some, the said saying was first coined by St. Augustine. However, based on an article published in the Catholic online forum, it was clarified that what St. Augustine wrote simply means that when you praise God thru songs, then something happens to the song of the praiser” because of love. Part of the excerpts of the original translation cited: …”he who sings praise, is not only singing, but also loving Him whom he is singing about/to/for….”.
In any case, the message being conveyed by St. Augustine only implies that whether or not you are a choir member, one should deliver the songs very well, with respect, with love and with the purity of intentions. When the choir sings together with the congregation, it is like everybody is praying together. In fact, Jesus said this that “…when two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them”.
There are also times that when you sing during the mass and the song coincidentally fit well to how you feel at that particular time, like if you feel frustrated, bothered, broken hearted, abandoned or in any state of emotion, you tend to cry out to the Lord thru the songs and then you realize that your eyes start to have “clouds” and even to the extent that the tears start to flow down on your cheeks. But after that , you feel some kind of an unexplainable relief, giving you a new hope and a form of healing from the Almighty. Have you experienced this before? Believe me, it happened to me not only once but many times!
Relevance of a Choir
In view of the importance of the choir in the liturgy, it may be imperative that the choir practice very well the songs to be sung so they would be confident during the actual singing presentation. Similarly, a well rehearsed choir would be able to impart the message of the song and eventually be able to shape and pave the way for the true faith of those who worship.
Choir members absolutely doesn’t have to be professional singers….anyone who has the knack, committed and is willing to volunteer their time and talent for the love of God, are the perfect members you could get. What an awesome gift from God! All the best to all of us!
Note: The next topic that I would be blogging on would pertain to the benefits of being in a choir, the choir decorum and some vocalization tips (minus the piano)!
If you feel the article was useful , please feel free to comment and it would be greatly appreciated. If you don’t have comments, it is okay I do understand. But just the same, it would still be good to hear your thoughts , pleasant or unpleasant!