Diary of a Ghetto Priest | Celebrating Queen Esther!
It has been 46 years since we have been formed as Fr Richard Ho Lung and Friends. In fact, it began even 10 years before Missionaries of the Poor!
Queen Esther is a work of love! I have written and adapted it for the stage as a musical drama. I had to use my poetic licence to create it for theatre, and for a New Testament people. This is my seventh time of rewriting the script!
I say this without boasting, Queen Esther will be brilliant, colourful, exciting, touching, joyful, and rich with God's blessings for all.
So you must come one, come all, on November 11-12, and November 18-19 at the National Arena in Kingston. I will also dance for you and for the Lord.
As I read and re-read the story of Esther, I began to understand her psyche. She is an orphan, she is the niece of Mordecai, the leader of the oppressed Jews in Persia. In her heart there is this enormous love of God and her people who believe in Him. She is grateful to God for His love of her.
She understands that it is out of love of God that the Jews suffered patiently, worked hard, stayed together as a community, remained faithful to Yahweh and one another and finally gaining respect and honour from the Persians, some of whom were their mortal enemy.
Pivotal to undertaking Esther is her willingness to marry King Xerxes, King of Persia, though she did not want to marry into a foreign culture that threatened death to her people and her own beheading, even though King Xerxes himself is her husband.
By the great power of God, and her courage, Esther dares to face up to King Xerxes, in order to bring unity between the Persians and the Jews who are a minority working almost like slaves in Persia.
The music, the costumes, the dancing are what make of Queen Esther a musical. The compositions this year are radically Caribbean. There are 19 songs written in the styles of reggae, ska, mento, calypso, and even ballads.
The poetic soul of Queen Esther led me to explore her soul: her love for her people, her love for her own country, the love for her own God, her willingness to suffer for her own people and her faith, her intense and joyful spirit. All these qualities are true to my own feelings and my own purpose as Missionaries of the Poor, as a Jamaican, and even my own membership of the human race.
I am glad, I am joyful that God gave me the original inspiration to write the liturgical songs used in churches in Jamaica and in the Caribbean islands. It is the first point of my involvement in music. This set the foundation for religious concerts in writing songs. Then it went on to writing concerts. Then after concerts, plays, musical operas and big productions.
The writing has been a surprise. It was not intended. I do not know how to read or script music. I can't play any musical instrument. And Wynton Williams has told me, "Father Ho Lung, please don't sing in public. Your voice is not proper."
The brothers told me likewise, "Father, please be silent," and though it hurts my feelings, I control myself for the good of the whole. So I mime my voice, and everybody makes sure I have no microphone.
But I do move about on the stage to make people laugh. I love to see people happy. I love to see children laugh, as well as adults. To me, it's part of spreading the Good News.
I delight in the gift of life, especially the Good News of Jesus Christ, and the faith that God has given me!