What’s All Souls’ Day and All Saints’ Day?

FROM THE STANDS - Domini M. Torrevillas (The Philippine Star) - November 7, 2019 - 12:00am

It will be a journey to an enriching musical experience as Faith Gospel Singers presents its 9th anniversary concert titled “Obra ng Maestro” featuring the Ellinwood Chamber Orchestra on Nov. 9, 6 pm at the Central United Methodist Church, Kalaw Ave., Ermita, Manila.

Divided into four segments, the concert is a unique blend of Gospel songs, Original Pilipino Music, broadway and movie themes, and inspirational music.

The repertoire includes Purihin Si Yahweh by National Artist for Music Lucrecia Kasilag, Somewhere from West Side Story, Circle of Life from Lion King, Go the Distance from Hercules, and When You Believe from Prince of Egypt.

The group will also cover OPM hits such as Panaghoy, Smokey Mountain’s Paraiso, Joey Ayala’s Manong Pawikan, and Gary Valenciano’s Gaya ng Dati.

 FGS will also interpret African-American contemporary gospel songs O Sifuni Mungu and Baba Yetu which will showcase its choral versatility.

Based at the Faith Baptist Church in Quezon City, FGS is a fellowship of Christian singers which ministers through God-centered excellence and music. Its members are united by a passion to serve the Lord through music, having toured various churches in the country and Filipino communities in Asia.

It has taken part at the 1st International Jazz Festival in 2011 and Marawing Salamat in 2018 held at the Cultural Center of the Philippines. The choir is directed by Naomi Sison, head of the UST Conservatory of Music’s piano department and a faculty member of the voice department.

 Ellinwood Chamber Orchestra, the string and wind ensemble of Ellinwood Malate Church, has performed at the Concert at the Park, UCCP churches, and has done music camps and outreaches in Batangas, Baguio City and Rizal.

It is conducted by George Bernard Supetran, former principal violist of the UST Symphony Orchestra who also orchestrated some of the pieces in the concert.

Admission is free. For inquiries and ticket reservations, visit Faith Gospel Singers Facebook page or contact 0917-8491409.

*      *      *

 I’m one of many, I suppose, who don’t really understand what All Souls’ Day and All Saints’ Day are all about. 

 My siblings and I do go to our  father’s and sisters’ graves as-a-matter-of-factly on the popularly observed All Souls Day, putting fresh flowers above their tombs, light candles,  and pray for them, even talk to them about how we  miss them. Then we drive back home, where we hold a small feast. But about All Saints’ Day, I don’t think we really had any inkling about its importance – or, meaning.

I consult my best friend – Google – to know the difference between All Souls’ Day and All Saints’ Day. 

Marshall  Connolly of California Network explains All Souls’ Day as celebrated on Nov. 2 of each year. “It is dedicated to all those who are departed from this world and who wait in faith of the promised Resurrection.”

“All Souls’ Day is often celebrated by attending mass, although it is not a holy day of obligation. Many people visit cemeteries or shrines dedicated to their loved ones and ancestors. On this day, they ask for the repose of their souls and the intercession of the saints to usher them into heaven in accord with the promises of Christ. In other words, we pray for our loved ones to enter heaven.

“On these days, we must recognize the truth that we too will someday join our ancestors. On this day, we particularly ask for the repose of their souls and the intercession of the saints to usher them into heaven in accord with the promises of Christ. In other words, we pray for our loved ones to enter into heaven.”  

 *      *      *

Alex Crain, editor of Christianity.com and pastor of worship ministries at Harvest Christian Fellowship in the Richmond, VA area (follow him on Twitter @alex crain), writes that the Bible doesn’t teach us to pray to the saints,  through the saints, or for saints. Rather, we remember the saints and to allow the testimony of their faith spur us on. All Saints’ Day, also known as Hallows’ Day, or Hallowmas, is a Christian celebration in honor of all the saints from Christian history.

Crain writes that All Saints’ Day, also known as All Hallows’ Day, or Hallowmas, is “a Christian celebration in honor of all the saints from Christian history. In Western Christianity, it is observed on Nov. 1st by the Roman Catholic Church, the Methodist Church, the Lutheran Church, and other Protestant denominations. The Eastern Orthodox Church and associated Eastern Catholic churches observe All Saints’ Day on the first Sunday following Pentecost. 

“The Christian festival of All Saints’ Day comes from a conviction that there is a spiritual connection between those in Heaven and on Earth. In Catholic tradition, the holiday honors all those who have passed on to the Kingdom of Heaven. It is a national holiday in numerous historically Catholic countries. In Methodist tradition, All Saints Day relates to giving God earnest gratitude for the lives and deaths of his saints, remembering those who were well-known and not. Additionally, individuals throughout Christian history are celebrated, such as Peter the Apostle and Charles Wesley, as well as people who have personally guided one to faith in Jesus, such as one’s relative or friend.

“In the early years when the Roman Empire persecuted Christians, so many martyrs died for their faith, that the Church set aside special days to honor them. For example, in 607 Emperor Phocas presented to the pope the beautiful Roman Pantheon temple. The pope removed the statues of Jupiter and the pagan gods and consecrated the Pantheon to ‘all saints’ who had died from Roman persecution in the first 300 years after Christ. Many bones were brought from other graves and placed in the rededicated Pantheon church. Since there were too many martyrs for each to be given a day, they were lumped together into one day. In the next century, All Saints Day was changed by Pope Gregory III to today’s date –Nov. l. People prepared for their celebration with a night of vigil on Hallows’ Eve – Halloween (possibly because of the strong holdover influence of the Celtic Samhain festival which many Christians in Ireland, Britain Scotland and Wales had continued to observe).

“In the 10th century, Abbot Odela of the Cluny monastery added the next day – Nov. 2nd – as ‘All Souls’ Day’ to honor not just the martyrs, but all Christians who had died. People prayed for the dead, but many unchristian superstitions continued. People in Christian lands offered food to the dead – as it had been in pagan times. The superstitious also believed that on these two days, souls in purgatory would take the form of witches, toads, or demons and haunt persons who had wronged them during their lifetime. As happens so often in Church history, sacred Christian festivals can absorb so many pagan customs that they lose their significance as Christian holidays.

“So, how should we think of All Saints’ Day? Well, the 1662 Book of Common Prayer says that the holiday stands for ‘the unity of Christians of all ages, countries, and races in Christ, and the perfection of that unity in heaven.’ It dates the holiday back to about AD 610 when the Pantheon in Rome, turned into a Christian Church, was dedicated to all saints.

 “The Bible doesn’t tell us to pray to the saints (Matt. 6:6) or through the saints (1 Tim. 2:5).  Instead, we think of our connectedness to past saints and find inspiration in their stories of God’s faithfulness. Hebrews 11 gives many examples of the great cloud of witnesses whose lives tell of God’s unfailing love and grace.” 

*      *      *

Email: dominitorrevillas@gmail.com

  • Latest
  • Trending
Are you sure you want to log out?

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

or sign in with