Spain and Portugal Tour - Participating in History
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Dear Friends,

 

Nestled in the Catalonian mountains northwest of Barcelona, the Abbey of Montserrat houses one of the most celebrated statues of St. Mary in the world. Over the centuries, the wood of this statue has darkened so that it has become known as “the black Madonna,” and pilgrims come from all over the world to view it. The Abbey is also home to one of the finest Boy Choirs in the world, the famous Escolania de Montserrat. Every day for hundreds of years, the members of this great Choir assemble in the sanctuary of the monastery and sing songs to the Virgin Mary. On Tuesday, June 14, the boys and young men of the Georgia Boy Choir were privileged to be a part of this phenomenon.
 

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Shortly before the service began the Americans were ushered in to seats of honor behind the altar at the front of the sanctuary that was filled beyond capacity with 2000 or more visitors sitting, not only in the pews, but also in the aisles, on the floor, and anywhere they could find to stand or sit. Soon the Escolania filed in two by two in their black cassocks and white surplices. They sang a powerful rendition of the Salve Regina. It was wonderful to hear them. When they finished, The Georgia Boy Choir exchanged places with the Catalonian singers to continue the service. unnamed 2The first piece they sang was “Nigra Sum,” a lush setting of words from the Song of Solomon: (“I am black, but comely, daughters of Jerusalem; the King hath rejoiced in me, the King hath brought me into His very own chambers. He spake unto me; rise up, my fair one, and come away, my love. Lo, for the winter is past and gone, and the rain is over and gone, flow’rs appear on the earth, and the time of renewal is come. Alleluia“) set to music by the great Spanish composer, Pablo Casals specifically to be sung in that church. They sang with remarkable beauty and pathos, and all present were moved by their artistry. They continued with two more Marian songs and when they were finished the applause by the overflowing crowd – as well as by the members of the Escolania – was long and loud.

 

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Following the service, the boys devoured a delicious all-you- can-eat buffet while enjoying the breathtaking view from the top of the mountain. For some, the exciting ride down on the cable car was the best part of the tour so far.
 

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From there, the Choir proceeded on to Barcelona, where the next day, they enjoyed a full day of sight-seeing and shopping, punctuated in the middle by a performance at the noon Mass at the Barcelona Cathedral. This Gothic structure, built in the 14 th century stands in stark contrast to the more modern buildings around it. The acoustics of the church are marvelous, and the Georgia Boy Choir took full advantage of them, filling every nook and cranny with their magnificent tones.
 

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In the late afternoon, they visited the most well known building in Barcelona, the unique Basilica of La Sagrada Familia designed by the inimitable architect, Antoni Gaudi. This fabulous structure, which has been under construction for more than 130 years, is not schedule for completion until at least the year 2026. It is unlike any other building in the world, not only in size and height, but also in creative and original design. The Choir is scheduled to sing at a Mass in the church’s crypt later in the tour, so this was just a sightseeing visit. They had hoped to be able to sing in the massive temple, but were denied permission (stay tuned for the sequel to this story).

 

That night, instead of bedding down in a hotel, the Choir boarded an overnight ferry bound for the island of Majorca. As the gentle rocking of the huge vessel lulled them to sleep, the boys’ dreams were full of the adventures they had experienced and the anticipation of more to come.
 

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Until next time,

 

The 2016 Georgia Boy Choir Spain and Portugal Tour Team.

 


NEW VIDEOS!

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