Friday, April 22, 2011

Pabasa ng Pasyon, a traditional religious practice

The pasyon is a verse narrative about the life and suffering of Jesus Christ. The verses are structured in five-line stanzas, with each line containing eight syllables. The pasyon is commonly sung during Holy Week, starting Holy Monday. The reading of the pasyon is a traditional religious practice in the Philippines and people gather around the reader of the pasyon to listen and reflect. It is seen by many of its practitioners as a vow or panata.

The first version of the Tagalog pasyon was written by Gaspar Aquino de Belen in 1704. It was entitled Mahal na Passion ni Jesu Christong Panginoon Natin na Tola (The poem of the Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ). Belen's pasyon went through at least four revisions, with the fifth edition printed in 1760.

The tradition of chanting the pasyon is not rooted to the Spanish language that the songs were originally written in. but is connected to the singing of epics during cultural celebrations among indigenous Filipinos. The pasyon is usually chanted a capella though occasionally the chanters may be accompanied by guitars or a rondalla band.


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