ONE OF the special things about growing up in Manila in the early 1970s was the exposure to the choral music of Catholic mass. As a kid, I attended Sunday church enraptured with the liturgical chant, pipe organ, and full choir of the Sacred Heart Parish Shrine, the neighborhood church that my family attended. "Tantum ergo" was my all-time favorite choral hymn: I knew the Latin words by heart, even though I never learned what they meant!
A few years later, congressional singing under Vatican II church music came into vogue. I mourned the loss of full choir's reverent melodies and harmonies, now buried under the massive popularity of guitar-driven chord structures. Suddenly, the sublime "Prayer of Saint Francis" no longer sounded beatific, and the movie song "Fill the World With Love" (from Goodbye, Mr. Chips) became the anthem of choice for communion. However, my loyalties to the choral tradition persisted: I would quietly sing the melody of the polyphonic "Lord's Prayer" while the rest of the faithful sang the prayer differently!
Listen below to Gabriel Fauré's "Tantum ergo" and Sebastian Temple's "Make Me a Channel of Your Peace (Adapted from the Prayer of Saint Francis)".