Himig Heswita

The turning point came in the year 1965, when Fr. Eduardo P. Hontiveros, SJ (lovingly called Fr. Honti) composed a Filipino Mass while serving Rector of San Jose Seminary. Answering the call for inculturation, Fr. Honti began composing songs in the Filipino idiom. A torrent of compositions would follow throughout the 70’s, resulting in what could arguably be called “classics” of Filipino Liturgical Music: “Ama Namin (Our Father)”, “Ang Puso Ko’y Nagpupuri (Magnificat)” and “Pananagutan”. Fr. Honti’s example would animate and inspire local composers and music ministries, and of course, his fellow Jesuits. 1981 saw the release of Himig Heswita, an album celebrating 400 years since the arrival of the Jesuits in the Philippines. Working with Fr. Honti on this album were “second-generation” Jesuit composers such as Frs. Nemy Que, Fruto Ramirez, and Danny Isidro.

In 1994 these younger Jesuit composers came together to produce Himig Heswita 2. This album was not really a sequel to the first Himig Heswita , but a development, a new stage of growth. Himig Heswita 2 featured Fr. Arnel, Manoling, Nemy, and brought together the choir that would include such voices as Frs. Jun Jun Borres, Chris Dumadag, RB Hizon and Peter Pojol. With Himig Heswita 2, the core group of Himig Heswita was formed.

The Catholic renewal that spread over the country with World Youth Day in 1995 led to two important developments: first, the consolidation of Himig Heswita as a stable singing group; and second the collaboration with instrumentalists. These concert musicians would bring a different flavor to Himig Heswita, making liturgies and performances even more meaningful. Himig Heswita has produced numerous albums and participated in a number of recordings for the Jesuit Music Ministry.

Since Himig Heswita 2 there have been five full albums: Best of Himig Heswita, Purihit’t Pasalamatan, Your Dwelling Place, Krus at Muling Pagkabuhay, and Stand By Me Still. Himig Heswita and their friends has also been part of many anthologies, such as Alay Kapwa, Far Greater Love, Something More and Believe. Himig Heswita has participated in the ministry of healing. Smaller more intimate concerts have been held for the benefit of those suffering from acute ailments. The albums Your Dwelling Place and Stand By Me Still are, in fact, recordings of these concerts. Himig Heswita has also done its part in developing local music ministries, through the many workshops on liturgical music given by Fr. Manoling Francisco SJ, Arnel Aquino SJ and JBoy Gonzales SJ.

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