The 33rd Annual Saint Ignatius High School Christmas Concert with the Cleveland Orchestra and Cleveland Orchestra Chorus was certainly unforgettable for its attendees. During the concert, longtime teachers Art Thomas and Richard Fujimoto '66 were honored with the Magis Award for their commitment to Saint Ignatius. During their remarks, both honorees commented on the importance of fine arts as a part of education and encouraged all in attendance to not only be supporters of, but also advocates for its continued strength and success.
The concert also marked the first time The Cleveland Orchestra and Chorus performed the original song "Sing We Now To You, O Mary," written by President of Saint Ignatius High School Fr. Ray Guiao, S.J. '82. In the spring of 1999, Fr. Robert Welsh, S.J. '54, then-president of Saint Ignatius, approached Fr. Guiao to write a musical piece for the dedication of St. Mary's Chapel in the fall of that same year. Fr. Guiao was honored to be asked and composed a four-verse Marian hymn, each verse recounting the role of the Blessed Virgin Mary in salvation history, from conceiving Jesus Christ in her womb by the power of the Holy Spirit, to seeing her Son risen from the tomb.
"How do we know about those who came before us, other civilizations from all cultures and all time periods?" Fujimoto asked. "How do we know the thoughts and values of our ancestors, what they cherished and what mistakes they made? The answer is simple….the arts. Through music, literature, painting, and drama, we are made aware of other cultures and other people, who, through their imagination and creativity, have left us with a portrait of who they were."
In the refrain, Fr. Guiao drew a phrase from St. Ignatius Loyola's Spiritual Exercises, "place us with your Son," in addition to the well-known motto of Jesuit schools the world over: "Men for Others." Fr. Guiao also incorporated the beloved Saint Ignatius High School alma mater, commonly inserted after the third verse of the hymn, before the final verse.
While Fr. Welsh was moved to tears when Fr. Guiao played the song for him a few months before the scheduled dedication, Fr. Guiao assumed that the song would only be sung at the chapel dedication Mass and then never used again. When Fr. Guiao returned a year later to join the Saint Ignatius faculty, he learned that the song was being sung at the close of almost every school liturgy and had quickly become adopted as the school hymn.
In a true display of the arts, the audience of students, alumni, parents, staff, faculty and friends of Saint Ignatius listened to the composition and stood to sing along to the Alma Mater as part of the song. Fr. Guiao, with special guest Bishop Nelson Perez by his side, was present as the notes of his song filled Severance Hall.
All proceeds from the Christmas Concert support tuition assistance. To make a gift in honor of Thomas or Fujimoto, please visit www.ignatius.edu/give_now to pledge your support.
"It was the thrill of a lifetime to think that a world-class orchestra and chorus would perform this song!" says Fr. Guiao.
A special thanks to Concert Chairs Drs. Brooke Hohn Hausrod and Richard Hausrod '95 and Co-Chairs Mary Lynne and Joseph McAuliffe '80 for their support of and commitment to this cherished event.