Divine Mercy Choir Prepares for Divine Mercy Sunday with US Concert Tour

The Divine Mercy Choir has traveled from Europe to give American audiences the chance to hear music that was unheard for many decades.

The members of the Divine Mercy Choir rehearse together.
The members of the Divine Mercy Choir rehearse together. (photo: OriginalDivineMercy.com)

Leading up to Divine Mercy Sunday, straight from the Archdiocese of Vilnius, Lithuania, where the first-ever Divine Mercy Sunday was unofficially observed on April 28, 1935, by Blessed Father Michał Sopoćko, St. Faustina’s spiritual director, comes the Divine Mercy Choir — bringing nearly-forgotten hymns together with Latin chants to people across the United States. The choir will stop at several churches across the country in this tour that began March 15 and will lead up to and include Divine Mercy Sunday on April 7.

The Divine Mercy Choir was originally formed in Vilnius to provide liturgical music in the Shrine of Divine Mercy where the original image of Divine Mercy is venerated. Joining the five-member choir on this tour is Daniel diSilva, founding president of the Original Divine Mercy Institute and director of the documentary film, The Original Image of Divine Mercy, the most authoritative film on the subject. He will present the history and unique significance of the image using a full-size (40” x 85”) replica of the original Divine Mercy image painted by Eugeniusz Kazimirowski according to St. Faustina’s directions. Both the Divine Mercy Choir and the Divine Mercy Institute have the blessing and endorsement of Archbishop Gintaras Grušas of the Archdiocese of Vilnius.

Unique Choir

The beautiful hymns, many from medieval times and dating as far back as the 9th century, were on the verge of being lost when the Communist occupation of Lithuania began in 1940. Half a century later, in 1990, Lithuania shook off the chains of the Soviet Empire and declared its independence. With that came a rebirth of culture. Today the original painting of the Divine Mercy is on display at the Shrine of Divine Mercy in Vilnius. It was here that the Divine Mercy Choir was formed to bring back an essential part of the ancient culture of Lithuanian Catholics.

The hymns the choir will be singing — all a capella — are part of a vast array that were rescued during this rebirth thanks to being preserved through an oral tradition. The choir has not only been singing them but also recording them, with pieces such as Mieliausioji Poni mano (My Dearest Lady) and Sveika, Žvaigždė ankstyboji (Hail Early Star) and the video Birth of Christ.

These hymns are now once again being heard beyond Lithuania’s borders as the choir has toured throughout Europe and also sung for Pope Francis. They have also been part of the Divine Mercy Sunday Mass live from Vilnius during an international broadcast over EWTN. Now they are bringing these beautiful, timeless medieval hymns to churches in the United States, including their second stop at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City. (Check the tour schedule for a church near you.)

Vilnius has been known for centuries as the “City of Mercy.” That ties into St. Faustina too. For a short while in 1929, she was sent to a convent in Vilnius, then known as Wilno because it was part of Poland. She was transferred then in 1933 to Vilnius to be the gardener. She stayed until March 1936.  Although her first posting to Vilnius was brief, she returned there later and met Father Michael Sopoćko, confessor to the nuns, who then began to support her mission of Divine Mercy. Here, in what she called the city “my beloved Vilnius,” she was writing the Diary.

“Our story is quite common with Polish people,” says the choir’s founding director, Gabija Vaičiulienė. For years she has been researching medieval Christian music. “Actually, they preserved quite a lot. As you know, our culture goes together” because there are “similar melodies.” Along with some “local techniques” and different interpretations, audiences will hear some exceptionally beautiful music.

Naturally, for both Gabija and the choir, singing for Pope Francis “was a joy and an honor. We will remember this all our life.”

By the way, everyone coming to the concert does not have to worry about understanding because while the choir sings in Lithuanian and Latin, people will receive beautiful librettos with English translations of every piece. Check for stops near you and the schedule for churches in various states and cities including Illinois, Idaho, Colorado, Louisiana and Texas.

This is yet another way to prepare for Divine Mercy Sunday.