Indian Catholic News

Documenting memories of catholic devotions

The works in Songs of Praise cover a time spanning over two centuries.


Fr Antonio Da Costa,a priest based in the US, recently released a book on the religious songs of Goa, ‘Songs of Praise’. Published by Goa 1556, it is a tribute to litanies and devotions practiced by Goan Catholics for generations.

“My goal for this book is to preserve this music as it was sung in days past until the late sixties, and to provide the families and village ‘vaddos’ a devotional manual to continue the devotions handed down by our ancestors,” says Fr Da Costa.

He was full of praise for the Goa Diocesan Commission for Sacred Music’s efforts in providing music for all the liturgical seasons and the Holy Mass in the hymn book ‘Gaionancho Jhelo’, popularly used in churches across the state.

“It is the best liturgical music hymnal in the vernacular in the whole of India. Gaionancho Jhelo was produced in a span of a few short years after the Second Vatican Council. The change from Latin to the vernacular in all the Liturgical services prompted the need for such a hymnal. I believe over 75 Goan composers, priests and lay people participated in composing the melodies for these hymns,” he says.

The works in Songs of Praise cover a time spanning over two centuries. “It is safe to believe that 75 per cent of melodies in this book were created in the second half of the 18th century and the first three decades of the 19th century,” says Fr Da Costa.

With no clear aim of publishing the matter, Da Costa at the age of 16, began researching Goan music and folk songs, and wrote them down in staff-notations.

“I feared that this music would get lost some day or it would change the originality as each person or community added or subtracted some elements in the transition,” says Fr Da Costa.

What began as a hobby proved to be a boost to Fr Da Costa’s career in music when unknowingly he was building a rich repertoire that he later used in churches and for radio programmes and got him in touch with other great musicians.

“While I was researching and collecting the Goan music there were two other great enthusiasts of this music who were doing the same thing. One was Jose Pereira and the other was the Micael Martins who later became my teacher for advanced studies in music. I did learn a lot from these two individuals. A common bond was formed and plans were made to save this music for future generations by publishing books from our joint repertoire,” explains Da Costa.

Working as a team the trio published five books on Goan folk music. After having completed work on these books in 2011, Da Costa was then able to turn his attention to religious music and thus Songs of Praise came to see the light of day.

Source: Navhind Times

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