MUMBAI, (C.M. Paul) – Most choirs in Asia may have lustily sung the popular hymn ‘God Still Loves the World’, but not many may know the composer, and fewer still the circumstance under which he composed this song.
It was 1984 – George Orwell’s brave new world had begun. But in a KSRTC bus in Bangalore city Peter Gonsalves, a student of theology at Kristu Jyoti College, was on his way to an evening choir practice in preparation for his very first audio-cassette. The bus was over-crowded with simple folk returning home from work. The scent of soiled and sweaty clothes filled the air. The conductor shrieked his whistle from one stop to the next as the bus joggled and jerked through a wall of unruly traffic. All this supplemented Peter’s depressing thoughts on poverty, inequality and injustice which he had heard at a social analysis lecture that morning.
The sudden burst of childish laughter caught in a crowded bus in Bangalore in 1984 delighted Gonsalves who saw a happy baby staring at him as she lay on her mother’s lap. Tagore’s words flashed in his mind: “Every child comes with the message that God is not yet given up on man” and was born the winning title-song of his first music album that spelled hope: ‘God still loves the world.’
This December Fr. Peter Gonsalves, SDB, completes twenty-five years as a priest, while his brain-child Tej-Prasarini celebrates the year of its twentieth anniversary. To mark this double jubilee, the Tej-prasarini released a CD containing seventy of his hymns in MP3 format on December 1.
The CD contains hymns that were hitherto spread over various publications at various moments in his life, from the time he was in school (like ‘All for You’) to his present role as professor of Communications at SalesianUniversity, Rome (like ‘A Christian’s Prayer for India’).
The CD aptly named, The Peter Gonsalves Collection – Lyrical Food for the Soul vailable at www.tejonline.com costs only INR 200.
Fr Peter Gonsalves is currently professor at the Department of Social Communications, Salesian University, Rome.