TAYBEH – Friday, June 17, 2016 – Members of the parish choirs in the districts of Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Ramallah and Nablus, met in Taybeh for a special day dedicated to the sacred song.
In each of the parishes of Holy Land, the choir is the lung of the liturgical life of the faithful. The choir members gather weekly to rehearse, learn new songs and prepare to lead liturgical song at the Sunday celebration of the Eucharist.
On Friday, June 17, one hundred and fifty members of the choirs of the regions of Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Ramallah and Nablus, met in Taybeh for a special day of meeting and singing. Bishop William Shomali, patriarchal vicar in Jerusalem and Palestine, during the conference, stressed the importance of religious chant in the liturgy, especially during Sunday Mass. He invited the choirs to always give the best of themselves while stressing the importance of alternating between the people and the choir between the Assembly and the soloist, “to not make liturgical singing the monopoly of the choir but to engage the faithful and help them to pray.”
Bishop Shomali then celebrated Mass, during which combined choirs performed various sacred songs, including some from the new Hymn Book published a year ago by the Latin Patriarchate. At the end of the celebration, a fellowship meal was provided by the liturgical Committee of the Patriarchate.
In the afternoon, the different choirs performed in concert, one after the other, new hymns of the repertoire, rated each time by an ad hoc committee. The efforts made by the choristers were acknowledged and welcomed each time, including the professionalism of the choirs of Taybeh and Jerusalem.
The meeting ended in a spirit of recognition: Fr. Ibrahim Nino and Father Johnny Abu Khalil, parish priest of Taybeh, were warmly thanked for the organization of this day. Hania Soudah and Sister Léonie, head of the evaluation Committee, were awarded the Medal of Merit of the Holy Sepulchre for the quality of their appraisals. Gratitude was also conveyed to the “senior” parish choir members, serving more than thirty years, among them a woman vocalist since the age of eight and now 80 years old.
For the Latin parishes of Holy Land, singing has become a tradition, a vehicle of the living transmission of the faith from one generation to another, adding to the beauty and the fervor of the liturgy.