(From Gospel Now Magazine, Dec 2010 – Jan 2011 issue)
FOR THIS CHRISTMAS ISSUE, we wanted to do an article on a choral group that does (either purely or occasionally) praise, worship and fellowship songs. Three groups came to mind – the Loboc Children’s Choir, the UP Madrigal Singers, and Libera. We decided to go with Libera. (We promise, though, that we’ll feature the Loboc kids and the UP Madz in future issues.)
Libera is a British boys’ choir famed for its distinctive sound of shimmering chords and ecstatic harmonies. The singers who make up the choir are aged 7 to 16. They come from different schools in South London and a variety of backgrounds.
The choir had its roots in the parish of St. Philip, Norbury, which has a long choral tradition. In fact, it was originally known as St. Philip’s Choir. In 1995, composer/director Robert Prizeman featured the boys in an album called “Libera” (Free). Thereafter, the choir got to be named after the signature song of that landmark album.
Most of Libera’s singers have soprano voices, with the boys in their early teens singing the lowest parts. Their songs often combine elements of Gregorian chant, classical compositions, as well as contemporary pop music.
Their most popular albums, aside from “Libera,” include “Angel Voices,” “Luminosa,” “New Dawn” and “Free.”
In 2008, during the Papal Mass that climaxed Pope Benedict XVI’s first visit to the USA, Libera performed to a capacity congregation of 60,000 at New York’s Yankee Stadium.
A visit to the amazon.com Website brought out these reviews by some of Libera’s listening public:
“You almost think that you have died and are hearing an angelic choir serenading you as you make your ascent to heaven.”
“When I first heard [Libera’s music] I was blown away because the voices…are so beautiful, pure, and innocent…Your mind transports you to another realm of peace and holiness.”
“[It is] very hard to consider these voices belonging to earthly boys….Listening to them while meditating (or just trying to find peace and serenity) brings an uplift to your inner being! One can only imagine a kingdom of cherubs (so happy and sweet) singing these songs.”
“[Libera’s music is] a testament to the beauty that exists in this world.”
Let Libera get you into the Christmas mood with their rendition of Silent Night. Click here.
In October 2009, the boys of Libera visited the Philippines and performed in the Philippine International Convention Center. In that concert and in a guest appearance in the TV program “Showtime,” they wowed their Filipino audience when they sang Bayan Ko. To watch the video clip, click here.
ONE OF Libera’s most-requested songs is Sanctus, taken from their album “Angel Voices.” The music was arranged by Robert Prizeman, based on Johann Pachelbel’s classic Canon. The lyrics, striking for their bare yet meaningful simplicity, were taken from the Latin Mass rites:
Benedictus qui venit in Domine
Sanctus Dominus Deus Sabbaoth,
Pleni sunt coeli et terra Gloria
Benedictus in nomine
Qui venit in nomine.
Translated to English, the words mean:
Blessed is he who comes in the (name of the) Lord
Holy Lord God of Hosts,
Heaven and earth are full of your glory
Blessed is the name
Who comes in the name (of the Lord).
To enjoy a video clip of the Libera boys singing this song, click here.