The Saligao Anthem for the Saligao Church of Mae de Deus

by Fr. Nascimento Mascarenhas

In the repertoire of many brass bands from Goa, the Saligao Anthem, O Brilhante e a Estrela, figures prominently. No feast procession is complete without the tune being played, and the composer and his village being remembered by musicians past and present. Of course not everyone would know who the composer of the Saligao Anthem was–especially those from other villages; perhaps even the current generation of Saligaokars would be ignorant on this count.

But Joaquim Antonio Mascarenhas of Arrarim must not be forgotten. He composed the musical score of the Saligao Anthem, on the occasion of the celebration of the fifty-first anniversary of the consecration of the Church of Mae de Deus in Saligao, on 26 November 1924.

Joaquim Mascarenhas, popularly known as Jakianton, spent many years of his life in Karachi and retired as Head Clerk of the Imperial Bank of India in the 1920s. He returned to Saligao to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Saligao Mae de Deus Church in 1923. The music composed by him has over the years reverberated in every church around the world in which Saligaokars and their well-wishers congregate on the first Sunday in May or on the 26th of November every year. The familiar tune of the Saligao Anthem evokes a sense of joy, nostalgia and belonging in the hearts of every Saligaokar in Goa or elsewhere and unites them in thanksgiving for the numerous favours obtained through the intercession of Mae de Deus.

While the music for the Saligao Anthem was composed by Jakianton (who, incidentally, was also a good violinist), the lyrics were in fact written by a Goan gentleman from Panjim — a certain Mr Aluisio. The composition written in two sharps with a timing of 4/4 is truly maestoso — profoundly grand and aesthetically pleasing as well. The poetry sparkles with luminaries (estrelas) and ends with the offerings of zaios and mogrims to the Mother of God. The few introductory bars played by the brass bands are a later addition to the original hymn, probably written by the author himself.

Jakianton was a very versatile linguist and he wrote hymns in Konkani, Portuguese, English and Latin. His Konkani hymns include the popular Ankvari Morie, and, Ami Hanga Aileanv, which is usually sung at the First Holy Communion service.

His compositions in Latin include O Maria and Alma Redemptoris. Those in Portuguese are Hino ao Sagrado Coracao de Jesus and Hino ao Sagrado Coracao de Maria. In English, Sweet Flower of Paradise is sung during the domiciliary visit of Our Lady of Miracles. There is another hymn in Konkani, which he left incomplete, called Gaian Amche Fatimache Saibinnik. The text, however, is extant.

On the lighter side, his wife complained that she could never enjoy a good night’s rest, for her husband would suddenly wake up in the middle of the night whistling fiercely, light the kerosene lamp, and jot down the notes of the tune that was sizzling in his mind.

Jakianton’s erudition in Goa went beyond music composition. He also left behind, in manuscript form, a Konkani-English dictionary, in which he not only supplies the meaning of each word but also its relevant idiom. He also contributed two booklets on proverbs. Fr Antonio Pereira, has drawn from these booklets and included them in his book Konkani Oparichem Bhanddar (Treasure of Konkani Proverbs) published in Goa in 1985.

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