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Al-Liqa’ Center for Religious and Heritage Studies in the Holy Land

Al-Liqa’ Center Hosts Nazareth’s ‘Oud Al-Nad Choir Group
 Muslims and Christians Chant and Sing Together

21 January 2012

The Bethlehem Peace Center, Bethlehem

Photo album  

Tens of persons, clerics and lay people attended this distinguished religious and artistic evening at the Bethlehem Peace Center which was performed by Nazareth’s Choir group ‘Oud Al-Nad.

Dr. Geries S. Khoury welcomed the audience at the Bethlehem Peace Center’s auditorium on behalf of Al-Liqa’s Board of Trustees, administrative committee and staff stressing that the main goal of all Al-Liqa’s activities since its establishment in 1982 is national unity and deepening of shared living among Christian and Muslim Palestinians and all followers of heavenly religions. The Center’s annual conferences, publications, lectures and forums are a reflection of Al-Liqa’s vision and philosophy. Today’s event is not a usual artistic program. We are gathering to listen to Muslim chants and Christian choral songs from Nazareth’s choir comprising Christians and Muslims who for several years were telling their fellow Nazarenes of Galilee and others in East and West who planted the seeds of conflict in Nazareth that their conspiracy have failed. On the contrary Muslims and Christians, still living together, eating and studying and working together,  and chant together praising God and thanking Him for His Blessings and as a result we will remain united and living in harmony as Heavenly books ask us to do.

Yes, Chanting and singing are important factors leading to psychological tranquility and a method by which one is able to inform others of spiritual and human messages. It strengthens our national unity and gives us hope in ourselves. We, at al-Liqa’ Center, will remain faithful to any work that embodies the teaching of our religions and contributes to our national unity.

Allow me to read on this occasion from the Book of Psalms 150:

“Praise ye the Lord. Praise God in his sanctuary. Praise him in the firmament of his power… Praise him for his mighty acts: Praise him according to his excellent greatness… Praise him with the sound of trumpet: Praise him with the psaltery and harp… Praise him with the timbre and dance: Praise him with stringed instruments and organs… Praise him upon the loud cymbals: Praise him upon the high sounding cymbals… Let everything that hath breath praise the Lord. Praise ye the Lord.”

Before the beginning of the Choir group’s performance, the leader of the group, Mrs Kathy Jarjoura, introduced the choir pointing out in the process that in the last two years ‘Oud Al-Nad introduced a special program comprising Islamic Sufi Chant intertwined with Christian choral songs. There were few who tried to abort us through racist methods. Despite that we achieved our work “Enlightening Spirits” and we tried to attract as many faithful to our group in order to accept the “other”. ‘Oud Al-Nad Choir chants to further dialogue and Christian Muslim unity in order to achieve real partnership in these difficult times. This chanting reflects friendship and spontaneous dialogue, both of which are integral part of our existence in this Holy Land.

The Choir’s program, comprising beautiful and distinguished voices of choral members, who chanted, sang and blessed our Creator. They were accompanied by the strings of Al-‘Oud and drum beats as well as warm responses and clippings from the audience. The audience was happy that the choir group comprises Christians and Muslims who sent messages to all of Palestine and the Arab nation in which national unity and a brighter future were clearly expressed.

His Excellency Greek Orthodox Bishop Atallah Hanna and Dr. Walid Mustafa, a lecturer at Bethlehem University, spoke in the program’s break. Both reiterated the idea that encounter between Nazareth and Bethlehem and between Muslims and Christians clearly point out that all of us reject sectarianism, withdrawal to oneself and blind fanaticism. Our message from the heart of the city of Bethlehem is clear. We are one people with same roots believe in the One God and in the defense of the Palestinian problem. Both thanked ‘Oud Al-Nad of Nazareth for this spiritual, human and national initiative stressing the need for similar programs in other Palestinian cities in order to emphasize that religion unites us and does not divide us.

At the end of the program, Dr. Geries S. Khoury thanked all members of the Choir Group, instrument players and Kathy Jarjoura for this distinguished evening in which chanting and choral singing expressed the soul of the Palestinian people who will maintain Christian and Muslim unity. A modest reception followed in which audience expressed high regard for the Choir and Al-Liqa’ Center.

It should be not that ‘Oud Al-Nad Choral group was founded in 1994 in order to help build Palestinian spiritually and morally. The chants and choral songs express authentically our joint presence in this Holy Land.