“The resurrection of Christ is the true hope of the world. Happy #Easter,” His Holiness Pope Francis tweeted on Easter Sunday. And after saying Easter Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica, he told the crowd gathered at St. Peter’s Square: “I learned with sadness and pain of the news of the grave attacks, that precisely today, Easter, brought mourning and pain to churches and other places where people were gathered in Sri Lanka.” He rebuked the violent attacks against Sri Lankans and visitors – 207 dead; about 400 injured. “I wanted to express my affectionate closeness with the Christian community, attacked while it was at prayer,” Pope Francis added, “and to all the victims of such cruel violence.”
INGLEWOOD, Calif. – I attended Easter Sunday Mass at St. John Chrysostom Roman Catholic Church and was treated to songs of praise sung by the Schola Cantorum of the Pacific, and composed by the likes of Mozart, Palestrina, Stanford, and lots of Gregorian Chant, reminding me of Latin lessons of long ago.
My eldest daughter, Louinn Lota, whose birthday sometimes falls on Easter, sings second soprano in the sacred music choir, directed by Fr. Ted Ley, SM, who arranged or composed several original songs, including “With Glad Alleluias,” which he dedicated to his choristers last year. Even that English language score had this Latin in it: Christus vincit! Christus regnat! Christus imperat! Christ conquers, Christ reigns, Christ commands.
Pope Sixtus V had those words engraved on the obelisk marking the center of St. Peter’s Square in Vatican City, Rome. The words are in present, not past tense, reminding us all of His ever-presence.
St. John Chrysostom parish in Inglewood, Calif., has room for about 1,000 parishioners each Mass. It traces its roots to 1909, as a mission church and now is one of the largest in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, with more than 10,000 families calling it their home parish.
The Kyrie Eleison Greek for “Lord Have Mercy,” by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is from his Missa Brevis, K. 259 Organ Solo Mass. Fr. Ted plays the organ, while assistant conductor Vicente Bastidas leads the singers in their choral parts.
Louinn showed me her solo part for “O Queen of Heaven Rejoice, Alleluia,” and there were so many notes in waves. “Triplets, mom,” my daughter explained. “But there’s not just one set, there’s triplets upon triplets, sextuplets!” I answered, shaking my head, because I don’t know where she got that vocal acumen. Not from me.
I remember being a member of the St. Cecilia’s Choir (late ‘50s) at Our Lady of Caysasay Academy in Taal, Batangas (a branch of St. Scholastica’s College in Manila). All students taking music lessons automatically became choir members (and I played the piano). I remember Sis. Clarita telling me, “Lydia, you can just open your mouth (the term lip sync wasn’t known then, since it was first recorded in 1960-65, according to Wikipedia).
The Schola choir also sang “The Strife Is O’er,” also known as the “Palestrina Alleluia” to the music of Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina. And the Old Testament’s Psalm 150 was created into the song, “O Praise God in His Holiness,” by Charles Villiers Stanford in 1852.
Some of the Latin included the Sanctus “Holy, holy, holy,” the Agnus Dei “Lamb of God,” and the Mysterium fidei “Mystery of faith.” We sang the “Our Father,” in English during Easter on April 21.
The Schola Cantorum also sang the St. John Passion, Christ’s arrest, torture and crucifixion as traditionally read on Good Friday (April 19) from the Gospel of the evangelist St. John in a moving arrangement by Fr. Ted that inserted the American Spirituals, “They Crucified My Lord, and He Never Said a Mumbling Word,” “Were You There When They Crucified My Lord?” and “Jesus Remember Me, When You Come Into Your Kingdom.”
If you’d like to contribute to keeping ancient hymns, such as the Medieval Victime Paschali Laudes, an Easter Eucharistic Sequence speaking of Christ as the Paschal Lamb, sung by the Schola, please contact the Schola’s business manager, Julio Maldonado at [email protected].
The Schola Cantorum of the Pacific is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Its mission is to preserve and develop the future of the Catholic Church’s music by providing music education to the youths and continually improving choral tone and quality.
The members of the Schola are: Fr. Ted Ley, SM, choir director and composer; Julio Maldonado, business manager, tenor, guitar player; Vicente Bastidas, assistant conductor, Escolania Children’s Choir director, stand up bass; Events Coordinator Christina van Ingen, first soprano; sopranos Louinn Lota, Marilu Reyes, and Stephanie Ramirez; Janice Druez, principal alto, music librarian; altos Adriana Martinez and Myrtis Allison; and bass Francisco Garcia, and Mike Tabor.