Remembering the Legacy: Fr. Eduardo Hontiveros, SJ, 16 Years On



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In the quiet corridors of memory, January 15, 2024, marks the 16th year since the Jesuit Music Ministry (JMM) bid farewell to its greatest mentor, the esteemed Father Eduardo Hontiveros, SJ. Fondly known as the “Father of Filipino Liturgical Music,” Fr. Hontiveros’ impact resonates profoundly as JMM embarks on a year-long celebration, “Hontiveros @100,” in honor of the Jesuit maestro’s Centennial Birth Anniversary.

Fr. Eduardo P. Hontiveros, SJ, born on December 20, 1923, in Molo, Iloilo City, unfolded a life story marked by devotion to God, education, and an unparalleled passion for music. Graduating from Ateneo de Manila in Padre Faura in 1939, he entered the Society of Jesus post-war in 1945. Over the years, “Fr. Honti”, as he is affectionately known, wore many hats — a professor of theology, seminary formator, Rector of San Jose Seminary, and Dean of Loyola School of Theology.

However, it is through his musical notes that Fr. Honti etched his indelible mark on history. Responding to the call of Vatican II in the 1960s for inculturation of the liturgy, he began composing Filipino liturgical songs. His melodies soon echoed through the choirs in Barangka, Marikina, and Pansol, near the new Ateneo campus in Loyola Heights. The waves of nationalism in the 1970s catapulted his songs to become staples in Masses, thus making him known as the “Father of Filipino Liturgical Music.”

Among the Catholic faithful, Fr.Honti’s music is undeniably familiar. His compositions, including “Pananagutan,” “Luwalhati,” “Santo,” “Kordero ng Diyos,” and “Magnificat,” remain cherished across generations. It was his pioneering spirit that paved the way for the diverse styles of church music sung in Masses today.

Fr. Honti’s brilliance in liturgical music earned him numerous accolades, including the Tanglaw ng Lahi Award (1976), the Asian Catholic Publishers’ “Outstanding Catholic Author” (1992), and the Papal award Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice (2000). The recognition culminated posthumously when then-President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo honored him with the Presidential Medal of Merit.

As we remember Fr. Honti on his 16th death anniversary, JMM stands at the threshold of a year-long celebration, “Hontiveros @100,” that commenced with a Simbang Gabi mass at the Church of the Gesu, Ateneo de Manila University, last December 20, 2023.

Looking ahead to 2024, JMM promises a heartfelt musical tribute to the renowned composer. Unveiling previously unpublished songs of Fr. Honti, a Liturgical Music workshop offering insights into his compositions, as well as the release of “Tubig at Liwanag” and “Pasyong Pilipino” are on the agenda. The pinnacle is a grand JMM concert in July, coinciding with the much-anticipated Ignatian Month.

Since his passing, Fr. Hontiveros has left a legacy that reverberates not just in the Philippines but globally. His music, sung in churches worldwide, continues to inspire, comfort, and uplift souls seeking nourishment through the celebration of the Eucharist.

As “Hontiveros @100” unfolds, JMM pays homage to the man who shaped the melody of our faith, immortalizing his contribution to Filipino liturgical music. May the symphony of Fr. Honti’s melodies continue to echo in the hearts of generations to come.