Frankie Reneau's Hymn to Belize becomes instant classic
Belize’s musical phenomenon, Francis Reneau, has produced a symphonic Hymn to Belize, which was performed for the first time to thunderous applause to honour the 30th anniversary of Belize’s independence.
As the tribute ended with breathtaking crescendo of drum, brass, string, and wind instruments and an ensemble of 96 massed voices drawn from every corner of Belize.
The singers came from the Belize Choral Society, the St. John’s Cathedral Choir, the Wesley Choir, reinforced withand singing groups from Corozal, Orange Walk, Cayo, Belize City and Dangriga.
The captivated audience rose to its feet with one accord, cheered and clapped for a full minute.
“I believe it is my best work to date”, Francis later told The Reporter. “I feel truly proud of it”.
And proud he should be, because everybody else who heard the inspired music and the powerful lyrics was captivated beyond words.
The miracle is that such a work could be performed in Belize in the first place. The string section, bolstered by the violins and cellos of the Pallotti String Orchestra, performed magnificently, taking the melody and celebrating with it.
The brass section, which was challenging because of some of the high notes and counterpoint rhythm, proved magnificent.
The drums and cymbals, including a prominent steel band bass, put on quite a show, and the massed choir gave such a spectacular performance it reminded many of Handel’s Messiah, not in melody but in rhythm and the powerful blend of voices and instruments.
Later Frankie confessed that he had been moved to tears while composing the words and music.
“I knew what I had, but I did not know how it was going to turn out,” he said.
“I wasn’t sure I would find the talent in Belize to produce it.”
Not only did he find the talent, he discovered new ones in the person of Mr. Felix Hernandez, a music teacher at Pallotti, who produced a tenor voice of such clarity and resonance that he shone like a leading man. His companion, Mrs. Claudia Henderson, a housewife from Belmopan, rose to the occasion as leading lady.
The lyrics, composed by Frankie Reneau, powerful in themselves, provided a new dimension when combined with the massed choir and the symphony of sounds.
Frankie spoke of the possibility of producing a CD, maybe even a DVD, but there are no immediate plans for this.
A Hymn to Belize
by Francis Reneau
Arise ye Sons of the Baymen
Put on your armour
To God we offer thanks & praise
With heart and soul and voice we sing.
Arise, arise you sons and daughters
Arise and sing, Children of Belize
In celebration let us sing
Sing with gladness to celebrate this day
This day we thank our nation and our people
Long live Belize!
In acclamation we are gathered Here to honour you
Honour with our songs of thanks and praise.
Give thanks to God for all His blessings
His many blessings,
Thanks be to God
Give thanks for all his children here
We give thanks that the future generations shall inherit.
That future generations shall inherit
That future generations shall this land inherit.
I pledge to thee my country
My love and loyalty I give Land of my birth, my home
Deep in my heart you live.
Forward from strength to strength you go
Your many blessings here I do proclaim
With heads held high and hearts aglow
We proudly sing your name.
Belize, beloved copuntry We freely give ourselves to you
In deep humility
We stand before you
Belize my home, my country
O land from which all blessings flow
United all we stand
Together, hand in hand
We greet the dawning of a better day
Throughout this land!
Land of peace
Land so beautiful
God’s blessings on this nation
And its people
That we may all united be!
Jaguera libre laru barana!
Land of the free by the Carib Sea
Tierra de la libertad!
One in strength!
One in pride in our heritage
We shall never be divided
As we build our nation Strong and free.
The people call your name
We celebrate and sing today.
Da fi you
Da fi me
D fi me
Da fi you
Da fu we!
Da fu you, da di me, The people call your name, Belize.