With over 45 collections of original music, including a 1991 Grammy Award nomination for “I Shall See God”, distinguished composer David Haas continues to find his heart’s fulfillment in devoting his time and wisdom to fellow liturgical musicians.
Through the organizing efforts of the Jesuit Music Ministry (JMM )and Jesuit Communications Foundation (JesCom), Haas conducted a workshop for choirs and Church-based singing ensembles last Saturday, November 9 at the Angelo King Multipurpose Hall of Xavier School, San Juan.
Displaying his same zeal and energy as the founder of Music Ministry Alive!, a national music formation program for young adults back in his home state of Minnesota, Haas addressed the morning crowd with fond memories of his previous visit to the country.
“It’s such a treasure to be back here, such a transformative experience. This people of this place have become like brothers and sisters to me. We all come from different parishes, and we’re here to pray, and celebrate.”
“As we do some singing, sharing and learning together, how marvelous it is to be in a country where choirs are everywhere! I’m just so taken by this,” exclaimed Haas, to the delight of the attendees, some of whom came all the way from Pampanga, Cebu, and Davao.
Encouraging his participants to stand, clap their hands and share smiles with one another, Haas recounted his ordeal with heart surgery and reminded them of the ultimate purpose of their musical vocation.
“We all have experienced the God of second chances. Those of us involved in music ministry sing about God who refuses to give up on us. We want to sound great, but more importantly, we help gather people to come to pray, and know more about God.”
As the gallery sang “Send us Your Spirit” and “Lord Increase our Faith” following his melody on the piano, Haas emphasized the liturgy’s significance as a celebration of faith. Relating to the beauty of Psalms, Haas admired how these are “timeless and speak so closely to our lives.”
After recalling the unwavering love of God through the parable of the prodigal son, portrayed in “I Call to You, God”, Haas then underscored how the liturgy gives life to the church as the people of God.
“As liturgical musicians, our role is not just to sing beautifully, but to ‘be the church’. I was so moved by our choirs Hangad, Bukas Palad and Ateneo Chamber Singers in practice. When they come together, there they find the Lord. That gratitude and love are so deep. That’s what moves people when we sing. Christ is present in the bread and wine, in the word and in each other.”
Guiding his guests through “We Are Called”, “A Future with Hope” and “Do Not Let Your Hearts Be Troubled”, Haas spoke of the poetry of music within the liturgy and how “people need this inspiration and connection, to live in faith and joy”.
Before concluding his interactive and engaging workshop with “Take Me Home” and his classic hit “You Are Mine”, Haas reflected on the power of music to heal and restore, through the liturgy.
“The liturgy is where we come to be restored, and music helps us be hopeful. We realize that we are not alone. Faith calls us to live in the light. The promise of the resurrection is that suffering will not win. That is why we keep coming back Sunday after Sunday because we believe life is far stronger than death.”