Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Fr. Marcelline Jayakody and the Sri Lankan National Anthem

Fr. Marcelline Jayakody (June 3, 1902─January 15, 1998) was a well-known Sri Lankan Catholic priest, musician, lyricist, author, journalist and patriot, and an exponent of indigenous culture who, according to a former High Court Judge, directed the Catholic Church in Sri Lanka towards the mainstream of national life.

Fr. Jayakody served as the head priest in Duwa in 1939. Duwa is the Passion Play Village in Sri Lanka. A Passion Play is a religious drama of medieval origin dealing with the suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Originally, the play used traditional puppets as actors for Duwa Passion play. Jayakody wrote original script for a Passion play influenced by Fr. Jacome Gonsalves and composed new hymns to the traditional "Pasan".

He is the first Catholic priest to win the "Ramon MagsaysayAward" considered the Asian Nobel Prize, (which carried along with it 20,000 US$, a Medal and a Citation) on 31st August, 1983 in Manila, Philippines. Fr. Jayakody also won the international OCIC (Catholic Film Office) and the International UNDA (Radio & Television Homage Awards) as well.

In 1949 Fr. Marcelline Jayakody was invited to train the choir for the song Namo Namo Matha for the 1st Independence commemoration as its composer Ananda Samarakone had gone abroad. Fr. Marcelline Jayakody rose to the occasion, trained the students of the Musaeus College and presented it to be acclaimed by all. There is no doubt that this wonderful performance paved the way to adopt ‘Namo Namo Matha’ as our national anthem.

Above is a stamp of Fr. Marcelline Jayakody playing the violin issued in 2005.