Sunday, April 22, 2018


Today is the third Sunday after Easter.

Starting in 1835, that meant that today was the ninth and final day of the Nobenan Promesa, a novena prayed by the people of Hagåtña and its surrounding villages, asking the Blessed Mother for protection against earthquakes, which had been terrifying the island in the years before 1835. The documents authorizing this novena specifically call on Mary in her Immaculate Conception and it was the novena to the Immaculate Conception that was prayed during the Nobenan Promesa.

The hymn included here below is strongly associated with that nobena. It was also sung in the Cathedral, at least since after the war, after the Saturday morning Mass, traditionally celebrated in honor of Mary.

No one knows for a fact when and where this hymn comes from, or who composed it. It appear in Påle' Román's pre-war Lepblon Kånta so it must go back at least to the 1920s if not earlier. I have always heard, since the 1980s, from older people, that it supposedly goes back to Spanish times, but we have no hard evidence for that.

If it does go back to the 1800s, there are clues in the hymn itself that seem to jive well with that.

First, the hymn portrays a clear link between Guam itself and Our Lady. She is called the må'gas (head/ruler) and raina (queen) of Guåhan (Guam). The refrain underlines the love the Chamorros have for her. The people calling out to her are the natives of this land (taotao håya). The concerns expressed are island-wide concerns : earthquake, tidal wave, typhoon, famine and so on. Finally, there is a verse, not included in this recording, describing the finding of Mary's image in the waters between Dåno (Cocos Island) and Malesso', the image which became Our Lady of Camarin (Sånta Maria'n Kamalen) and venerated in the Hagåtña church.

It seems pretty clear to me that this hymn was written for the Chamorro people, expressing their love for Mary and asking her protection from natural disasters. That fits very well with the Nobenan Promesa's whole intent.


O Señora Nånan-måme, Må'gas yan Rainan Guåhan,
(O Lady, Our Mother, Ruler and Queen of Guam,)
talak papa' giya hame ya magof pumulan ham.
(look down to us and happily watch over us.)
I taotao guine tåya' otro fanlihengan-ñiha.
(The people here have no other shelter.)

I Chamorro, O Maria, siempre hao un guinaiya!
(The Chamorros, Oh Mary, will always love you!)

Tungo' na sen ti yan-måme i mañuha as Jesus,
(Know that we truly do not like to stray away from Jesus,)
sa' gos metton giya hame hinengge as Yu'us.
(because we are very attached to faith in God.)
Na' måfnas nai Maguaiya i tinaihinenggen-ñiha.
(Erase then, Beloved, their lack of faith.)

Chomma' Nånan mina'åse' i pakyo yan i niñalang,
(Prevent, Mother of Mercy, typhoon and hunger,)
i linao, i napon tåse, yan todo i na' mahalang.
(earthquakes, the waves of the sea and all sorrow.)
Pulan i taotao håya yan i guinahå-ña siha.
(Watch over the native people and all they possess.)

"Third Sunday of Easter (Promesa)"

The Nobenan Promesa ended on this Sunday. Taken from the Debosionårio, a Chamorro prayer book of standard devotions, written by Påle' Román de Vera, Capuchin missionary.

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