Liturgy in Hong Kong －－
The origin and editorial ideals on H.K. Catholic Hymnal 《颂恩》
徐锦尧神父 Fr. Luke K.Y. Tsui
(Xu Jin Yao)
I totally agree with that particular word in today’s theme “pastoral”.
I cannot agree more with what Msgr. Salvador said that the liturgical
presider should be a celebrant pastor.
A pastor cares for his sheep. But who are those
sheep? Where do they live?
As a pastor, I deeply feel that what we know or what we can do (capability)
are not what the world wants. And what the world needs are things that
we do not know nor capable of responding to.
For example: poverty,
(do we know that 25,000 people starve to death every day of whom 5,000
are children under the age of five?)
disaster (are we aware that the whole world shall have
no clean water to drink in 50 years’ time?)
I am a pastor, yes, but of whom? A pastor of a parish? Of a country?
Of the whole human race?
With this in mind, I started my “pastoral
liturgy” journey, 40 years ago.
While serving as the Spiritual Director for HK Central Council of
Catholic Laity and HK Catholic Youth Council 40 years ago (1973-1977),
we decided to produce a popular edition of the Catholic Hymnal suitable
for use by all the laity in the HK Diocese. So I started working with
a small group collecting and composing songs ourselves, as well as writing
and editing or rearranging the music and the lyrics.
In editing this hymnal, we had abided by these principles:
1. It should be for use by the general
public, implying it should not be costly, so that each
liturgical participant can afford a copy. It is why the first edition
was sold at one HK$ dollar only.
2. It should spread the spirit of Vatican
II, especially the spirit of catholicity, mutual respect
and inclusiveness embracing other religious faith. Ex: when composing
or amending, editing the lyrics of existing songs, we took great care
not to project the world as darkness or convey a conviction that unbelievers
are doomed to hell.
3. It should integrate faith with life
or with practical living. We believe that Catholicism
is God-oriented, therefore it is necessarily people-oriented. We hope
the message of the hymns enable us to yearn for a more abundant life.
Hymns in the Hymnal such as Walking with
Christ, Rejoice are particularly relevant to daily life.
4. We were very particular with the
touch of religiosity, elegance and solemnity in the
hymns, so we introduced many masterpieces by Lucien Deiss, such as Send
forth your spirit oh Lord which has a very strong touch
of religion. An old hymn Evening prayer
to Mary was a hymn I was deeply touched when I was still
a seminarian back in 1956, so I believed it would touch others as well.
and Resurrection by Fr. Lau Wing Yiu a local composer
has a very strong lamentative feel.
What I love the most is The
Heavens are Telling by Beethoven for which I rearrange
both the music and lyrics. It was really an embodiment of religiosity,
elegance and solemnity.
5. We hoped this hymnal collection also would have
a Chinese feel, so we collected a great number of masterpieces
by the renown Chinese musician, Jiang Wen Ye. Hymns such as Ave
Maria, Holy Innocence (Psalms 131) have a very strong
sense of Chinese music.
Conclusion: Since 1992 I have been
traveling to China for evangelical work every month and have been to
73 places. I am aware that Protestants are garnering very good results
in the mission work in China. In terms of numbers alone, they have outnumbered
the Catholic mission work by ten times or more. One of the reasons being
that when unbelievers go to their churches, they are at least able to
enjoy quality and touching hymns. This is something we need to quickly
Thank you and God bless!