04/21/2012, 00.00
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Sacred music, hymns and traditional songs to evangelize Vietnam

by J.B. Vu
30th meeting on sacred music held in Saigon April 17, organized by the Vietnamese bishops' conference. Music as an opportunity to attract the younger generations and encounter with non-Christians.

Ho Chi Minh City (AsiaNews) - Music, traditional hymns and choruses are a valid tool of prayer, evangelization and attraction for young Vietnamese victims of a society arid increasingly, and only interested in money. This is what emerges from the 30th Meeting on Sacred Music held last April 17 in Ho Chi Minh City by the Vietnamese bishops' conference.


Sisters of the Diocese of Nha Trang, located in the mountainous highlands of central Vietnam, attending the Meeting, reporting that "many young parishioners are eager to express themselves through song. They are keen to go and teach the songs in the neighboring parishes, despite challenging hazards and unforgiving topography of the area. " Often to get from one village to another, it takes days. "Through the music - they continued - we have attracted many people to Christianity. At Easter we baptized thousands of teenagers."


A special guest at the meeting organized by the Episcopal Conference was Fr. Kim Long, one of the most famous composers of Christian sacred music of Vietnam. Born in 1941 in Bach Tinj in the diocese of Bui Chu in North Vietnam, Fr. Kim studied at the Franciscan seminary in Saigon, where his passion for music was born. After his ordination to the priesthood in 1968, he began to compose Church songs and hymns, mixing Catholic tradition with Vietnamese culture. After the unification of Vietnam and the rise to power of communist dictatorship in 1975, Fr. Kim began secretly to write sacred music and hymns, including Ca Len Di, sung today in most Vietnamese parishes. At the age of 55 years the priest has composed more than 3 thousand songs, music and hymns for the Catholic Church. Today in many churches in Vietnam, especially those victims of persecution by the regime, the congregation sings the hymn "Kinh Hoa Binh," a prayer for peace. Composed in 1960, the song is based on a prayer of St. Francis of Assisi and is popular even among non-Catholics.


"My whole life is tied to sacred music Vietnamese," said Fr. Kim in front of a group of young people attended the meeting. "To compose a beautiful hymn - he said - we need to pray twice. The first is to ask God for the inspiration to write. The second is addressed to the parishioners who need to pray to be able to sing well." At the meeting, the priest announced that in his will he will donate 15 thousand U.S. dollars collected over the years thanks to his songs and donations from the U.S. and his home to the Commission for the sacred music of the Vietnamese Catholic Church.


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