My Favorite Filipino Mass Hymns
A Catholic Country
I come from a country where Roman Catholicism is still the predominant religion. This is no wonder since Catholicism dates back to the sixteenth century when Spain colonized the Philippines and brought forth the faith.
Today, in practically all the Catholic churches nationwide - and even in some offices, schools, and malls that have indoor chapels - many Filipinos attend the daily mass scheduled in the morning, noontime, and early evening. On weekdays, it's common to see professionals and students attend these masses.
Filipinos are music lovers, and for them to better appreciate the liturgical services, they sing the mass hymns with much glee. Some talented Filipinos have composed hymns that have become popular.
I feature my favorite ones in this article.
Singing the Mass Hymns With Joy!
As a Filipino Catholic, I attend mass daily. Many times, my focus on the Eucharistic celebration is suddenly disrupted when a mass hymn with a catchy melody is sung, and I can't help but sing along with the choir. Then, when I leave the church, the song sticks to my mind the rest of the day.
In the late ‘80s, after hearing the song Hindi Kita Malilimutan ("I Will Not Forget You"), I bought a cassette of mass hymns sung by a group called the Bukas Palad Music Ministry (composed mostly of alumni of the Ateneo de Manila, a leading Philippine university. To date, they have received local music awards and citations). Bukas palad is the Tagalog word for "generous".
I did some research on this group and learned that the hymns were composed by three young men—Manoling Francisco, Norman Agatep and Jandi Arboleda. The bulk of this music, however, was written by Francisco, now a priest of the Society of Jesus. I gathered from my brother-in-law that Fr. Francisco was a bright student who garnered most of the medals during his high school graduation. Thus, God obviously bestowed on this fellow the gift to write beautiful liturgical music.
Some of the hymns I’m featuring here are in Tagalog. I regret, dear foreign readers, that I cannot translate them into English, as they are too profound, and some Tagalog words have no direct English translation. Also, I’d hate to translate, lest I distort the meaning of the song.
I only pray that by listening to the melodies, you foreigners may be inspired to raise your hearts up in praise to our God almighty.
Hope you enjoy listening.
PAG-AALAALA (Memorial)—Opening song
I like the tempo of this song.
Panalangin Sa Pagiging Bukas-Palad (Prayer of Generosity)—Offertory Song
This is my favorite of all!
Take and Receive—Offertory Song
The Ateneo and Jesuit community love this song which speaks much about their motto of being "men for others".
Hindi Kita Malilimutan (I Will Not Forget You)—Communion Song
Fortunately, this video features the English translation. The male vocalist is popular balladeer and Ateneo alumnus Basil Valdez.
Tanging Yaman (Only Treasure)—Communion Song
In 2000, an established local movie outfit released a religious family drama which instantly became a hit, and was highly commended by the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines. This hymn was used as the official song for this film of the same name.
Narito Ako (Here I Am)—Communion Song
Composed by a certain Rene San Andres, this is at times sung during the offertory. Love the mellowness of this song!
Mariang Ina Ko (My Mother Mary)—Communion Song
This hymn is usually sung on Saturdays or Marian feasts. Love its romantic melody!
One More Gift—Communion Song
This really puts me in a reflective mood.
Anima Christi—Communion Song
Whenever I listen to this, I imagine it as one of the songs of the musical Godspell by Stephen Schwartz.
I also love the tempo of this song.
Humayo't Ihayag (Go Forth and Proclaim)—Recessional
This tune goes well with the clapping of hands.
I Will Sing Forever—Recessional
The group singing in the video is the Bukas Palad Music Ministry. In the background are the natural wonders of the Philippines.
In Him alone is our hope;
In Him alone is our strength.
In Him alone are we justified;
In Him alone are we saved.— Music by Manoling V. Francisco, S.J.