03/21/2014, 00.00
BANGLADESH

Dhaka: Christian community fetes Bartholomew Shah, "musician of God"

by Sumon Corraya
A devout Catholic, the composer wrote and arranged hundreds of hymns. As a vocational and regional leader in the YMCA, he has been able to join an interfaith and ecumenical sensibility to his passion for music. For the archbishop of the Bangladeshi capital, "His hymns have made praying more powerful. We are proud of him."

Dhaka (AsiaNews) - Bangladesh's Christian community has honoured one of its own with a big bash, feting Bartholomew Shaha, a composed who has authored scores of hymns over the years and contributed to the country's YMCA for decades.

Over a long and esteemed career, the Catholic musician wrote more than 100 songs, eight books of hymns and dozens of other compositions.

As the party's guest of honour, Mgr Patrick D'Rozario, archbishop of Dhaka, spoke about him, saying, "His hymns have made praying more powerful. We are delighted about the honour that was bestowed upon him."

Organised last Saturday by the Bangladesh Christian Association and the Christian Co-operative Union, the party brought together more than a hundred Catholics and Protestants to honour the musician.

"I'm a big fan of his music," said Sukhan Gomes, a young Catholic. "Without his hymns, our prayers would be incomplete".

For Mgr D'Rozario, who also chairs the nation's Bishops' Conference, "though he is a layman, he can add great spirituality to the lyrics. He is a great resource for our community, and has given pride to the children of the Church."

A devout Catholic and a former seminarian, Shaha worked for 30 years in vocational support. Since 1996, he has been secretary general of the Asia Pacific Alliance of YMCA (Young Male Christian Association), an organisation that supports young Christians all over the world.

Working together with people from other Christian denominations and other religious and cultural backgrounds, the composer has developed a solidly ecumenical approach based on strong inter-cultural sensitivity.

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