United in song in six languages

Participants singing in Iban for Malaysia’s Largest Ever Catholic Virtual Choir.

NEVER would we have ever imagined that a global pandemic would bring people closer together — by requiring them to stay apart for safety.

Christmas is here, but most Christians are still grappling with how to celebrate the season.

With Catholic mass suspended in some churches, and carolling and big family gatherings discouraged, many are adapting to the new normal using technology to come together while being apart.

Catholics at Home (CAH) Podcast recently premiered Malaysia’s Largest Ever Catholic Virtual Choir, bringing together more than 500 people from all over the country to perform a beautiful medley of O Come All Ye Faithful, Hark! The Herald Angels Sing and Angels We Have Heard on High in six different languages, including Malaysian sign language.

During the online premiere of the virtual choir performance, the programme also featured Christmas wishes from Archbishop Julian Leow from the Archdiocese of Kuala Lumpur, different carol choir groups and unique Christmas cribs from churches around Malaysia.

Creative activities, such as arts and crafts and a live stream from Pavilion Kuala Lumpur, were also included to enable everyone to participate while being physically distanced.

“During this time, it is important to not neglect our community’s spiritual needs and do what we can to bring the Catholic community in Malaysia together and lift their spirits.

“Assembling a choir of this

magnitude was not easy; however, the responses from Catholics across Malaysia was overwhelming. So many wanted to be part of this unique expression of Christian fellowship necessitated by the times we live in.

“In the spirit of Christmas, at this time when we are socially and spiritually distanced, this enthusiasm to engage through all the means available gives us hope and courage, ” said Father Clarence Devadass, a member of the CAH Podcast team.

“Viewers may see some familiar faces in our virtual choir, such as Malaysian Olympian Pandelela Rinong, retired SMK Assunta founder and principal Datin Paduka Sister Enda Ryan as well as their friends and family members, ” said Clarence.

The CAH Podcast team took two weeks to put together the submissions for the performance which premiered on Dec 19. Submissions were accepted in English, Mandarin, Tamil, Bahasa Malaysia, Kadazan and Iban.

“Across the year, we have seen all manners of organisations in Malaysia changing how they reach their audiences, and it is the same for spiritual communities where interpersonal communications is the glue that binds the congregation. “We started this podcast in April during the MCO to reach out to Catholics who needed their spiritual fellowship and growth. During this Advent season, we decided to use this channel to bring Christmas joy to everyone.

“Malaysians who are not able to come home this year to celebrate with their family and loved ones can still feel the Malaysian Christmas spirit virtually.

“We hope this effort will add cheer to everyone’s homes ahead of the upcoming Christmas celebration, ” said Mark Darren Lee, another member of the CAH Podcast team.

Lee added that the team was heartened by the response to the project.

“When we premiered Malaysia’s Largest Ever Catholic Virtual Choir over the weekend, we had 20,000 viewers tuning in to the live stream, and to date, we have over 35,000 views in total via Facebook and YouTube.”

To view the performance by Malaysia’s Largest Ever Catholic Virtual Choir, visit http://bit.ly/LargestChristmasVirtual

Choir_FB or http://bit.ly/LargestChristmasVirtual Choir_YouTube

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