Friday, May 25, 2012


Continuing the tradition of Påle' Roman

This young man, for all his youth, is committed heart and soul to traditional Chamorro hymnology.  He tries to learn them all, and researches their origins.  Just a little digging reveals that the majority of our Chamorro Catholic hymns are translations of pre-existing hymns from Europe, mostly Spanish, some Basque and a sprinkling of others.

So it is in complete adherence to tradition for Larry to take a Basque-Spanish hymn and compose a Chamorro version.  He wrote these Chamorro lyrics for a song he is planning to have sung at the upcoming Sacred Heart fiesta in Chalan Pago.  The orthography (spelling) is his :

1. Matuna hao – Korason Santo;
Hago, Magas giya hame;
Minagof todo i manñantos;

Hulon, Rai yan Sainanmame!
Bendise ham, Asaina, - Mames Korason Jesus;
yan pulan ham Santa Maria. – Umageftuna-ha, hamyo;
yan pulan ham Santa Maria. – Umageftuna-ha, hamyo.
2. Taihinekog na Yuus Tata, -
umatuna i Nananmo.;
Asie ham, - i taotao haya;
sa Hago ha’ sen takhilo!
3. Hago, ni matai gi Kiluus;
Nae ham ni bendisionmo.
Yoase na Kinilon Yuus,
todos ham famaguonmo!
4. In adora hao, Jesukristo,
gi sensantos na Ostia.
Umamaila i gobietnomo,

Magas Rai i man rai siha!
5. O Ininan si Yuus Tata,
I Santos na Espiritu;
Sainan manna nae linala;
Umatuna tai finagpo!
6. “Si Yuus gaige giya hago”
Santa Marian Kamalen,
Adahi ham yan i Lahimo;
Hago sen gasgas na Bithen.

Some Remarks

Hulon - this is an obsolete word, not used today, but this is a good way of reviving it.  Among its several meanings, here it means "someone in authority."

Taotao Håya - was an older way of referring to Chamorros.  The people who came from the direction of the ocean were the Gi Lago or Taotao Lågo.

Kinilo - means "lamb"  The problem is there were no lambs on Guam, so Chamorros borrowed the Spanish word for "lamb" - cordero.  But therein lies another problem; two, actually.  We Chamorros cannot pronounce an R or an L which come before another consonant.  It becomes a T, as in when we say Kåtlos when we mean Carlos.  Second, we just have a hard time with R no matter where it is placed, so cordero becomes kotdelo, and in time it becomes kinilo.

A Good Example

That a man in his late 20s can do this is not only a tribute to his talent but also serves as an inspiration for other young people to cast off all self-doubt and try their hand at doing Chamorro versions of lyrics, poetry or prose.  Just make sure to have someone solid in the language look it over.


  1. Wonderful reading. You should be proud of yourself.

    I just heard the Pope's Papal Anthem played. It's the same melody as "Atan Jesukristo."

    I'm trying to remember who composed/arranged "Atan Jesukristo" Felix Flores or someone with a similar manner? If you know, would appreciate the info. My Google research yielded nothing.
    Rose Griffiths

    1. Yes, the tune was obviously borrowed by whoever then decided to put Chamorro words to it. I suspect the Spanish missionaries, but it could also have been a Chamorro layman or laymen along with a missionary or missionaries. Or perhaps Padre Palomo, who was not a missionary but a native priest. No one ever wrote down who composed the Chamorro lyrics. Since the music was written only in 1869, the Chamorro lyrics were composed after that, in time to be spread to Rota and Saipan during Spanish times, since this hymn is sung in all the 4 inhabited Marianas islands. The Felix Flores you mention is probably Archbishop Felixberto Flores. This hymn was composed long before him. But it was one of his favorites and wanted it sung at every important Mass as the recessional.