Festival of Choirs celebrating the 210th Anniversary of the Ceylon Bible Society
at the Cathedral of Christ the Living Saviour
Praise the Lord, for the Lord is good; sing to his name, for he is gracious. (Psalm 135:3)
We thank and praise God for his abundant Blessings and Guidance which empowered us to organize the 30th Festival of Choirs celebrating the 210th Anniversary of the Ceylon Bible Society on the 1st of August 2022 at the Cathedral of Christ the Living Saviour, where we Praised God by singing and glorifying him for his wonderful blessings to CBS for over two centuries in this beautiful Island of Sri Lanka. This year by God’s Amazing Grace it was possible for us to have the Thanksgiving service despite the adversity. Amidst many setbacks, partly due to the COVID pandemic and also economic crisis and the prevailing tribulations, God’s hand has led us through in a marvelous way throughout the year and brought us out successfully in every situation.
The ceremonial procession took place prior to the commencement of the Thanksgiving service and the Choristers of the Schools and Church Choirs, Chief Guests, Guests of Honor, Clergy, Principals, Chaplains, The President of CBS, The General Secretary of CBS and General Council members entered the cathedral with serenity and occupied the seats which were reserved precisely for them.
The Thanksgiving service commenced and all those who were present rose to their feet and joined together to glorify God by joyfully singing “To God be the Glory” and honored God for the Great things he has done for the Bible Ministry. Following the Joyful singing Mr. Eraj Wijesinghe, the President of the Ceylon Bible Society thanked God for the Blessing he has bestowed upon the CBS during the past year by which the CBS was able to face many new challenges and surmount every obstacle that it had to face and for enabling to successfully carry out all programs throughout the island from strength to strength.
It was a startling to see the number of those who were presented for the Thanksgiving service amidst the challenging situation and Rev. Priyantha Wijegoonawardena, General Secretary of the Ceylon Bible Society, warmly welcomed everyone present to the 210th Anniversary of the CBS and trusted that the songs presented by the dedicated choristers would not just make those presented delightful but would touch many hearts bringing all Glory and Honor to God alone.
Followed by the General Secretary’s welcome address the 1st Choir, which was the St. Joseph’s College Choir vocalized the beautiful Latin song Mozart’s Ave Verum, in Latin, which highlighted that Jesus who was born of the Virgin Mary, truly suffered, sacrificed on the cross for man, whose pierced side overflowed with water and blood, Be for us a foretaste In the test of death. Despite the song being sung in Latin it was really impressive and beautiful and carried the beautiful message. They also song the Battle hymn of the Republic which was wonderful.
Soon after the St. Joseph’s College Choir, the 2nd Choir, Holy Emmanuel Church Choir, Moratuwa came towards the Centre of the Church wearing a white and red traditional robe which projected the elegant, uniform aesthetic to the audience. They vocalized the Beautiful Sinhala Catholic Hymn, Samidun Janathawe which was really outstanding and it was the first time the Choir had performed outside after the year 2009. It was very professional and touched the hearts of many. They also sang a beautiful Latin Hymn, Gloria Antonio Vivaldi, a joyful hymn of praise and worship divided into 12 relatively brief movements, ranging from festive brilliance to profound sadness.
After listening to the delighted music, all those presented rose to their feet once again and joined the Congregational Hymn, “Great is Thy Faithfulness, and at this time the Offertory collection was taken for God’s ministry and Rev. Shirley Faber, President of the Christian Reformed Church
Offered the prayer to God of all goodness and grace, to receive what we had offered and to grant that our whole life may give him glory and praise.
Following the Offertory prayer the 3rd Choir, Carey College Choir walked towards the Centre wearing a maroon and blue traditional robe. They vocalized the song, The Holy City a religious Victorian ballad, which is one of the most commercially successful songs in the UK and United States around the beginning of the 20th century and also “perhaps the most pirated musical piece prior to the Internet”. The three verses of the song highlights in turn, a crowd cheering Jesus Christ’s triumphal entry to Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, Jesus’s crucifixion on Good Friday, and the eventual “New Jerusalem” (Zion) of universal peace and brotherhood foretold in Isaiah 2:4 and Isaiah 11:6-9. The song highlighted the important part of Jesus’ Life and was so meaningful. They also sang a gospel hymn, Standing in the need of prayer, thus highlighting the human need to pray.
Right after the Carey College Choir the 4th Choir, School for the Blind was guided to the Centre with the assistance of the teachers of the Blind school and the CBS staff. They vocalized a beautiful hymn Standing on the promises giving an assurance that God cannot fail what he has promised to those who put their trust in him. It was an overwhelming performance which touched the hearts of many and was applauded by all those who were present. We could experience as to how God used all the visually impaired choristers to glorify his name and to inspire many through their song. They also sang a melodious Sinhala song gracefully which was commended by all who were present.
Following the enchanting and delightful singing, the Bible Passage from Psalm 150, “Praise for God’s Surpassing Greatness” was read by Mrs. Joanne Anukshan, staff of the Ceylon Bible Society.
Right after the scripture reading our Respected Chief Guest, Fr. Nihal Fernando, Headmaster of S. Thomas’ Preparatory School, Col 03, extended his sincere thanks to the General Secretary of the Ceylon Bible Society for inviting him to be the Chief Guest. The Chief Guest stated that singing was not alien to the Christians because it was a part of the liturgy and the Book of Psalms is full of songs and mentioned that the choirs sang His praise at the Cathedral of Christ the Living Saviour. The Chief Guest thanked the Ceylon Bible Society for organizing the Festival of Choirs celebrating the 210th Anniversary of the Ceylon Bible Society and commended the extraordinary performance of the dedicated Choristers who Glorified God through music and highlighted the importance of praising God through singing.
Following the message of the Chief Guest the 5th Choir, Colombo Chorale walked towards the Centre and Vocalized the beautiful Latin Hymn, Palestrina’s Adoramus Te, Christe, which highlighted the following, “We adore Thee, O Christ, and we bless Thee, who by Thy Holy Cross hast redeemed the world. Thou, who hast suffered death for us, O Lord, O Lord, have mercy on us.” It was really harmonious and very pleasant to hear. They also sang a melodious gospel song, Above all Powers which is known as a contemporary Christian song and it explains about the Greatness of our God. The lyrics of the song convey us a deep message that our God is above all, and no one is higher and greater than Him. We could not imagine what he can do for us, and yet, above all else never forget us, dying for us.
The Final Choir to perform was the Wesley College Choir. The Choristers walked towards the Centre and vocalized “Shackles (Praise You)” which is one of the pioneer songs of urban gospel music. The song was very lively and the choristers performed the song with movements. It was a delightful performance and all who were present enjoyed it very much. They also sang the traditional gospel song and Jazz standard Just a Closer Walk with Thee harmoniously. It was pleasing to hear and highlighted the importance of having a closer walk with Jesus.
Following the outstanding performance of the magnificent choirs who glorified God through their singing the celebration of the Festival of Choirs came to its conclusion and in order to thank the God Almighty for his presence and Grace which led through the Thanksgiving service the closing prayer & Benediction was offered by Rev. Heshan de Silva, President of Sri Lanka Baptist Sangamaya.
Finally, the Festival of Choirs, celebrating the 210th Anniversary of the Ceylon Bible Society concluded as the Hymn for Sri Lanka was played when the recessional took place in orderly manner with great serenity.
View the full broadcast on our YouTube channel >>>> https://youtu.be/f8GO4x74yaw