Psalm 97 is a song filled with festivity and joy at the wonders of the Lord
Monica Andrea Vives Orozco, better known as Maía, surprised millions by singing Psalm 97 for the first Mass celebrated by Pope Francis during his recent visit to Colombia. Maía’s fervor, powerful voice, and interpretive quality stood out and thrilled millions of faithful who followed the Mass live through various audiovisual media and social networks.
Born on November 16, 1982, in Puerto Colombia, Mónica Andrea adopted the artistic name of Maía after winning the contest Colombia Suena Bien, hosted by Sony Music, in 1998. At the time she was just 16 years old. Now, less than 20 years later, this young Colombian singer and songwriter has achieved a successful artistic career that includes four full-length albums and two Latin Grammy Award nominations, as well as gold records.
To date, Maía’s fame as a pop and tropical singer has spread to many Spanish-speaking countries. She has performed more than 600 concerts all over South America, sharing the stage with artists such as Juanes, Eliades Ochoa (Buena Vista Social Club), Cheo Feliciano, Maluma, Fonseca, Draco Rosa, Carlos Vives, and Ricky Martin, among others.
In September, 2017, Maía led 1.3 million people who attended the Holy Father’s Mass at the Simón Bolívar Park, in Bogotá. Many were touched by the vibrant interpretation of Psalm 97. Even surrounded by full orchestra and choir, Maía’s voice soared over the crowd.
Maía’s performance trended on Twitter, being one of the most talked about topics in Colombia. Comments included: “Wow!”; “That song came out of your soul, Maía”; and “Spectacular, a beautiful and unforgettable moment. You were enlightened.” An article in the digital newspaper La Lengua del Caribe held that “the voice of the coastal artist reached the highest point in the sky and was heard by God himself.”
Psalm 97 is a song full of festivity and joy at the wonders the Lord has done. According to a page of Franciscan commentaries on the Psalms, the Jerusalem Bible titles this psalm The Judge of the Earth. It is an eschatological hymn inspired by the last part of the book of Isaiah (chapters 56-66) and is very similar to Psalm 95.
The arrangement of Psalm 97 prepared as the responsorial for the Mass of Pope Francis in Bogotá began with trumpets followed by verse 2, which was used as an antiphon of the psalm. This verse highlights the manifestation of victory of God, which is ultimately about liberation from the oppression suffered by the people of Israel. Christians see this victory culminating Jesus Christ, author of the Redemption manifested in his Paschal Mystery.
During her interpretation, Maía repeated the antiphon three times and then referred to the mercy and faithfulness of God, as expressed in verse 3 of the Psalm. The chant continued with verses 4 and 5 sung almost literally, accompanied in the background by the Schola Cantorum and Santa Cecilia choirs. In the third and fourth repetition of the antiphon these choruses assumed more prominence. while Maía performed two different melodic lines of accompaniment. The responsorial ended with the phrases of verse 6.
In addition to Maía’s outstanding performance, it is worth mentioning the extraordinary arrangement executed by the National Symphony Orchestra of Colombia, which gave special emphasis to this part of the liturgy in one of the most heartfelt, crowded Masses that Pope Francis celebrated during his 2017 visit to this region of the world.
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