By Sarah Mac Donald - 27 February, 2018
The annual Emmanuel concert series, which brings thousands of secondary school students together to perform religious music, has an additional significance this year as participants sing the hymns that will be sung at the papal Mass which will conclude the World Meeting of Families.
Between Monday and Thursday this week, over 2,500 students from 70 different schools all over the Archdiocese of Dublin will sing their hearts out at the Helix in Dublin City University.
Organisers underline that Emmanuel is “unique” in the Irish Church and that it has been taking place for twelve years, with 2018 involving the greatest number of students so far.
Though a visit by Pope Francis to Ireland for the World Meeting of Families has yet to be officially confirmed by the Vatican, organisers of WMF2018 have already begun planning for the event, specifically the music for the final Mass in the Phoenix Park in Dublin on 26 August 2018.
Some of the religious music chosen for that Mass is being heard live for the first time this week at the Emmanuel concerts in the Helix.
Among these works of religious music are three pieces which have been specially written for the World Meeting of Families: ‘Joy for all the Earth’ by Ephrem Feeley, ‘People of Joy’ written by Brendan Dowd and a piece from Liam Lawton, ‘Joy for the World’.
As in previous years, students from the Holy Family School for the Deaf in Cabra will take part, signing for the concerts on Wednesday and Thursday.
According to Emmanuel’s organisers, the project centres on faith development for teenagers, it also offers them an opportunity to sing live in front of a large audience, backed by a choir of hundreds of their peers.
Each evening’s performance is almost entirely student-led with soloists chosen from participating schools, musicians performing from the student body and student presenters acting as MCs.
Ahead of the concert, students are invited to take part in faith-based workshops, with reflections and rehearsals of music for the night ahead.
Each morning of workshops is followed by full rehearsals and then a live concert every evening where parents, family members, teachers and the public get to enjoy the fruits of the musical and spiritual preparations.
The students take the music and prayers they learn during Emmanuel and adapt them to prayer services in their school communities throughout the year.
The World Meeting of Families takes place from 21-25 August 2018 at the RDS in Dublin ahead of the papal Mass on 26 August in the Phoenix Park. More information on the World Meeting of Families: worldmeeting2018.ie