‘Holy freedom’ as one united family: the World Meeting of Families hymn

One week after Pope Francis announced he will attend the 2015 World Meeting of Families, the event’s organizers have released an official hymn that speaks of family unity, “holy freedom,” and the Holy Family’s example for mankind.
“This event has the power to transform the lives of families – both Catholic and non-Catholic alike – in positive and charismatic ways. I’m confident that this hymn will affirm that spirit,” Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia said Dec. 1.
He said the hymn, titled “Philadelphia,” will “further inspire” the archdiocese for the 2015 event, following Pope Francis’ Nov. 24 announcement that he will attend.
“Sound the bell of holy freedom; call all nations of the earth,” the hymn begins, continuing: “Sons and daughters of one Father, sent to spread God’s saving Word. / Come, and gather, as one fam’ly at the table of the Lord.”
The hymn’s tune was written by Normand Gouin, a former music director at Philadelphia’s Old St. Joseph Church. Its lyrics were written by south Philadelphia native Father Andrew Ciferni, O.Praem, a musician and liturgist at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts, the Philadelphia archdiocese reports.
The hymn draws on the theme of the meeting, “Love is Our Mission: The Family Fully Alive.”
Its other verses speak of Mary and Joseph, Jesus and his miracle at the Wedding of Cana, and Mary’s presence at Jesus’ Crucifixion.
The hymn closes: “Sound the bell of holy freedom; call all fam’lies of the world / To be fed by love incarnate; to proclaim God’s holy Word; / Through the love of Christ our brother, in the Spirit make us one.”
According to a Catholic News Agency report, Archbishop Chaput said the hymn’s “powerful words and melody” make it “an excellent choice for our official hymn.”
“I hope it encourages all who hear it to deepen their daily relationship with God and with their own families in significant ways,” he said.
The hymn was first performed for the public by the Cathedral Choir at Philadelphia’s Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul during the Sunday evening Mass Nov. 30.
Archbishop Chaput celebrated the Mass and delivered the homily. In his homily, he drew attention to the replica of the official image for the World Meeting of Families given to many Mass attendees. He said the image, which depicts the Holy Family, is “is a symbol of the most important unit in our personal lives, which is our families.”
“This is where the action is. This is where the Christian life is learned and practiced, in the best possible ways,” he told the congregation. “You are called in your families to imitate them, to be holy in the same way that they are. And the way that happens is if you pay attention to the Lord. To Him, to your neighbors, to your family members, to the people he has entrusted to your care, and even to yourself. To be serious about living life to its full.”
A second hymn, titled “Look Up and Count the Stars,” was also selected to be used during the next World Meting of Families. Dr. Peter Latona, the music director for the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C., wrote the music and lyrics for this hymn.
The Philadelphia World Meeting of Families will take place Sept. 22-27, 2015. A global Catholic event, the world meeting seeks to support and strengthen families. St. John Paul II founded the event in 1994, and it takes place every three years.
The World Meeting of Families website is worldmeeting2015.org.

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