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Director of folk choir speaks at Saint Mary’s

Julia Harris | Thursday, October 27, 2011

Composer Steve Warner said it is exciting to watch different communities adapt and work with his song “Cross of Our Hope” in a lecture at Saint Mary’s Wednesday evening.

“Once you write a piece, it belongs to the Church. They take the insight and wrap it around their own flavors,” he said. “That’s the Holy Spirit at work.”

Warner, the founder and director of the Notre Dame Folk Choir, composed the piece in honor of the beatification of Blessed Basil Anthony Moreau, who founded the Congregation of Holy Cross.

“When I was asked to write a song to honor Blessed Moreau, I had to fulfill several things,” Warner said. “First, I was asked not to use his name in the piece, but rather look to his writing to find and write his message. I was also asked to write it in as many languages as possible.”

Warner said that “Cross of Our Hope” exists in English, Spanish and French.

“The Holy Cross family embraces several continents and many cultures,” Warner said. “Linguistically, the text had to be spot on. The liturgical and musical parameters had to be respected.”

Warner said that one of the hardest parts about writing the song was finding texts of Moreau’s to work with.

“I finally stumbled upon a letter about the glory of the cross and sufferings of the world,” Warner said. “Reading his letters, there is an unabashed zeal that he constantly shared with his community. It was my goal to create a piece that reflected that zeal.”

Warner said that the refrain of the piece reflects that sense of unbridled joy found in Moreau’s writing.

“From the first note of the song, it tells you that we are moving forward. It is gospel-oriented and evangelical,” Warner said. “We are spreading the gospel.”

The writing process behind “Cross of Our Hope” took three and a half months, Warner said.

“Writing a song is not just writing music. You are rearranging people’s spiritual furniture,” he said. “You put prayer on their list. It’s very humbling.”