THE BOMBAY SEMINARY: A Musical Treat – Tune-In!
The impressive inauguration ceremony of the Bombay Seminary was rendered lovelier by the breath-taking melodies that filled the evening atmosphere. The open sky, rolling hills, sprawling flowerbeds, soaring palms, riot of colours, and the myriad of lights proved but a perfect setting for the soulful evening. The Clergy Choir, the Police Band, and the Naval Band regaled the audience with emotive as well as foot-tapping renditions. Sixty years later we bring to you these scintillating compositions. To have an enlivening experience click on the YouTube link and tune in your musical minds.
October 5, 1960 – The Inauguration function opened with three lively pieces by the newly formed Clergy Choir in its first public appearance. The choir was trained under the baton of Msgr George Fernandes. The renditions included:
The Jolly Miller – Arr. By Virginia French – Also known as ‘The Miller of Dee’, this light-hearted English folk song revolves around a miller who plies his trade on the River Dee. Content with his fair living, the miller holds no concerns for inordinate pleasures. The song was put to paper as part of an 18th-century play, however, it has existed in the unwritten form several years before. Several poets have produced variations of the original. Here is one of them – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lT_SQF6EZtM
The Galway Piper – Old Irish Air – This great Irish jig is a spirited opener. Published as early as 1740, the rhythmic number makes for a rousing sing-along. Click to experience the magic in the song – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-juYkLWlq08 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9nKZCqj_rIA
Little David – Negro Spiritual – This charming rendition of the popular African American spiritual illustrates the story of the Biblical David. It is lively and light-hearted. Click to karaoke – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YGNNMvDyGGc
The Clergy choir didn’t stop there. They went on to sing two other brilliant pieces –
The Comrades Song of Hope – Adolphe Adam – ‘Hark what strains of solemn gladness, are heard filling the air ’, this masterful and mesmerizing composition reverberated the hearts of all. Composed in 1910 by the prolific Adolphe Adam, the song lent words to the undeterred spirit and the amazing grace that led to the success of the day. Let this touch your heart – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jA3z3YCD2JM
Italian Salad – Richard Genee – The Clergy Choir brought the curtains down with this musical jest, a robust Italian tenor by the Austro-Prussian composer Richard Genee. Built with nonsensical terms and classic exclamations, this exquisite parody of a classic Italian opera scene is anything but hilarious and delicious. Lend an ear to enjoy – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BatGMX7ohBo
The Clergy Choir rose wonderfully to the occasion and won the eager applause of the huge audience. Both Msgr George Fernandes and his star tenor singer Fr. Douglas Dias, S.J. were specially called for by the Cardinal Prefect and presented to him. The four main speeches of the evening were interspersed with choral or musical performances by the Clergy Choir, the Navy Band, and the Police Band. The Bands entertained the audience for about an hour before the programme. Their contributions were expertly rendered and gratefully applauded.
The Navy Band under the baton of Lieut. Wise charmed the audience with its rendering of ‘Abide with Me’ and selections from ‘Il Trovatore’
Il Trovatore – Italian for ‘The Troubadour’ is an opera in four acts composed by the Italian Giuseppe Verdi. It premiered for the first time at Teatro Apollo in Rome on January 19, 1853. It is best known for its gypsy music that includes a variety of themes. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WEMMVHAINFM
Abide with Me – This comforting song of enduring beauty was composed by William Henry Monk in 1861 and also goes by the name ‘Eventide’. Its simplicity is heart-wrenching. The hymn echoes the words of the disciples to Jesus – ‘Abide with us’ (Luke 24:29). Let Mahatma Gandhi’s favorite song-of-strength abide with you – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IB-q8dO_svw
The function came to a close with the Papal Anthem (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gVHT5oF4T1o) and the National Anthem (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6xwWRPXfJk0 ) both of which were sung in Hindi by the Seminary Choir. The Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament was given with the golden Monstrance that had especially been presented to the Seminary by H.H. Pope John XXIII.
May these timeless tunes continue to tune our times and uplift our souls as we share in the gratitude and joy of the Bombay Seminary!
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© – Archdiocesan Heritage Museum
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