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Hymn by English liturgist to open Year of Mercy

The Sistine Chapel Choir will record the hymn (CNS)

A piece by an English liturgist has been chosen as the official hymn for the Year of Mercy.

Paul Inwood, whose work is a staple of parish liturgies across North America, was among 90 composers to submit a composition to the Vatican. He learnt in June that his music was chosen and that the Sistine Chapel Choir was about to record it. The only problem, he said, was that they wanted a little extra musical flair.

“I spent the next 24 hours writing a brass prelude and interludes and a choral coda [for the ending],” he told the Catholic News Service.

The hymn’s title and refrain, Misericordes sicut Pater, is the official Latin theme of the Year of Mercy and translates to “Merciful Like the Father”.

The Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelisation, which is co-ordinating the Year of Mercy events, released the hymn last week, posting the text and music at www.im.va and posting a recording on YouTube. The text, in Latin and Italian, is by Jesuit Fr Eugenio Costa. The interspersed Latin, Inwood said, makes the verses “a kind of litany”.

Like the text, he wrote, “my music is also a mixture, with elements in the style of a Taize response and a Gelineau tone”.

The composer said he would be present in St Peter’s Basilica on December 8 for the opening of the Holy Year when the song will make a very public debut under the direction of the Sistine Chapel Choir and accompanied by professional brass players.

“Hopefully it will work in more simple settings, too,” he said. “There are even guitar chords, so it should be doable even in the smallest groups.”

Inwood said he has also written English and French versions of the song.