HONG KONG (SE): When the Diocese of Hong Kong suspended all public liturgical celebrations for the public from mid-February as the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic worsened in Hong Kong, the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception and many other parishes immediately switched to livestreaming the Mass online.
Church choirs from different parishes were unable to practice, much less sing for liturgical celebrations. Yet, the urge to praise God and to lead to the people into prayer through music prompted a group of choirists to try to reach out virtually.
St. Augustine said, “To sing is to pray twice.”
Several musicians, who have contributed to the sacred music of the diocese over the years, realised that virtual choirs were becoming popular due to the advancement of technology.
Viola Yuen, the music director, together with 26 friends from Hong Kong and from Taiwan, as well as renowned pianist, Raymond Young, and a Hong Kong dancer who is conversant with sign language joined the project. The members of the choir was came from various faith backgrounds: Catholics, Protestants and some without religious beliefs.
The choir selected the renowned work, The Lord Bless You And Keep You, by British composer, John Rutter, for their rendition. The lyrics conveyed the prayers and wishes of millions around the world in this time of pandemic.
Yuen, together with Jonathan Soon, edited and mixed the individual contributions of the choir members to synchronise them to the beat and ensure that the four-part harmonies fit together. Young recorded his piano accompaniment while Yuen followed the music in order to videotape her conducting while Soon combined the two videos into one.
Each choir member recorded their parts from their respective places while watching the combined video and listening to the accompaniment. Most recorded their performances using the cameras of their mobile phones, spending four to five hours getting their respective sections correct.
It took several days for Soon to do the editing and mixing, and complete the final cut that was released on Facebook and YouTube.
After several months of fighting Covid-19, many cities and countries around the world still face severe outbreaks. The members of the choir wish this song to convey sincere blessings to all people all around the world, especially those who have lost their loved ones or friends due to the Covid-19.
They send their best regards to all medical personnel around the world and thank them for their tireless service for the millions infected. They wish medical experts from all over the world success in their efforts in developing a vaccine and hope that the world will overcome this pandemic. Their prayer for the world can be found here: https://youtu.be/pYyTZ3qdrbw