ASIA/SYRIA - Two Syrian Franciscans, twin brothers, compose songs in Arabic inspired by the writings of St. Francis

Thursday, 20 January 2022 middle east   local churches   area crisis   youth   music   vocations   franciscan

Aleppo (Agenzia Fides) - Johnny and George Jallouf are twin brothers, and they are also friars and students at the Custody of the Holy Land. They were born 25 years ago in Aleppo, and in that Syrian metropolis, martyred during the war years, they also lived together the beginning of the religious vocation that led them both to follow in the footsteps of St. Francis of Assisi. Now, their passion for the Saint and their concern for the care of liturgical celebrations have united them in a new adventure: the project of obtaining from the writings of St. Francis a corpus of sacred hymns in Arabic, to be offered to all for the liturgy and personal prayer. The result for now is a collection of nine hymns, entitled "Rabi wa Elahi" ("My Lord and my God"), with texts in Arabic and original music, available for free on digital music platforms, including Anghami (popular in the Arab world).
Father George explained that the idea of creating liturgical songs in Arabic inspired by the writings of Saint Francis arose during his early years of Franciscan formation, while he and his brother were in Italy singing Franciscan hymns composed in Italian. The two brothers are also musicians: George studies classical guitar and singing, Johnny studies flute and singing. Their project consists of creating Franciscan hymns with original music, the composition of which was entrusted to a couple of Christian musicians from Nazareth, Louai Zaher and Rabab Zaitoun. "The purpose of the spread of these songs", Brother Johnny told the online magazine "is to try and convey to the Arab world the spirit of the Franciscan writings, especially to young people during the meetings of formation and on the Franciscan Marches". The title of the collection, which means "My Lord and my God" in Arabic, is inspired by the phrase "My God and my everything", pronounced by Saint Francis on Mount Verna, after receiving the stigmata.
Johnny and George, members of a Christian family from Aleppo, grew up attending the Franciscan parish in the Syrian metropolis even during the years when the entire population suffered from the trauma of war. It was in those difficult times that their vocation flourished. The questions and the thirst for happiness that they felt growing inside them while the city seemed to sink into unimaginable violence led them to put aside their old plans (one wanted to be a doctor, the other dreamed of being a film director) and to follow the One that attracted their hearts more strongly in those troubled years. (GV) (Agenzia Fides, 20/1/2022)

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