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Duo offer Silent Night as a healing gift to all of Bermuda

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Bruce Fox, left, and Ronnie Lopes practising at St Patrick’s Church in Smith’s (Photograph by Jessie Moniz Hardy)
Ronnie Lopes, left, and Bruce Fox, practising at St Patrick’s Church in Smith’s (Photograph by Jessie Moniz Hardy)

Ronnie Lopes and Bruce Fox sang Silent Night in four languages and released it in the middle of a pandemic – public response has been incredible.

A live performance takes place at mass at St Patrick’s Church tomorrow night; the Christmas Eve service will simultaneously stream on its Facebook page.

“A lot of people have taken it personally,” Mr Lopes, the cantor at the Roman Catholic church in Smith’s, said of the song. “They say, ‘You did that for me!’ One girl said she got goosebumps.”

So many people told him they cried listening to it that the singer felt a little overwhelmed.

“I think we are going through a lot on the island and the world,” said Mr Lopes, who also sings and plays the drums with the Kennel Boys and performs at weddings with Mr Fox, the director of music and organist at St Patrick’s.

It was the latter who came up with the idea to do something to help lift spirits dampened by Covid-19 back in May.

“I decided to give people something uplifting,” Mr Fox said. “Amazing Grace is the universal anthem of hope. With everything going so wrong we did Amazing Grace. Then when the death toll hit 800,000 in August we did Songs of the Angels. That took us to the end of the summer. We also did Ave Maria. Then I started to think Christmas. I thought we should do something but I did not know what.”

He finally settled on Silent Night because he saw it as the “carol of carols”. Once completed, they passed it around to friends and shared it on St Patrick’s Facebook page.

“It was originally written in German and has been translated into 140 different languages,” Mr Fox said.

“I said we should sing it in German and English, since it was first written in German.”

Although he does not speak a word of German, Mr Lopes said he was game.

And then Mr Fox upped the ante, insisting that the song be also sung in Portuguese. No problem, said Mr Lopes, who spoke the language fluently.

It turned out to be more difficult than he thought, mainly because of the various pronunciations within the language. The same word can be spoken differently in Brazil, in mainland Portugal and in the Azores.

“I was listening to a recording of someone in Brazil and someone in Portugal, and the Azores, and the way they all said Jesus was three different ways,” Mr Lopes said. “We had to learn the right way. And that was the most important word in the song.

“Bruce was very patient and kept saying no, it is Je-Jush. When we got that down and were comfortable, we were at the piano.”

He continued: “Even though I don’t really speak the language learning to sing it in German felt very good. The way you pronounce the word and sing it, it fits with the music hand in glove.”

Just when the pair had reached a comfort level, Mr Lopes suggested they add Spanish into the mix.

Said Mr Lopes: “At first Bruce said, ’Yeah, yeah, next time’. But I said there were Spanish speaking people in our church. We should do something for them too. This was totally to give back – and not just to the people from St Patrick’s but for anyone.”

Listen as Ronnie Lopes and Bruce Fox perform Silent Night at 5pm and 7pm tomorrow. The service will stream live on St Patrick Church’s Facebook page

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Published December 23, 2020 at 8:00 am (Updated December 22, 2020 at 11:46 am)

Duo offer Silent Night as a healing gift to all of Bermuda

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