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“Vivan los Ninos!”   

The story begins in 1995 with our cassette recording “Mary Our Mother” - a Walsingham pilgrimage.  The charity “Let the Children Live” was based in Walsingham and its founder, Father Peter Walters, took our recording to sell as part of his own fundraising. We felt privileged that our music could help him with his wonderful work supporting children who lived on the streets in Medellin, Colombia, and wanted to know more.  Father John invited him to come to the parish and talk about his mission - we had to wait nearly three years!

At that time Watermead was based at St Theresa’s in Birstall, where there was an active role for children in the prayer and musical life of the parish - including a regular monthly Children’s Mass.  Many of the children had already been involved in our recording “A Little Child Shall Lead”.

It was early in 1998 at one of the Children’s Mass celebrations that Father Peter came and told his story and how he had come to help the plight of the unwanted “disposable” children - the gamines - in Colombia. Since we had first met him in Walsingham he had moved to live in Colombia and work with the children, coming home to England only to fund-raise for the charity through his talks to parishes, schools and interested groups.  His visit to us was just one of the many he was to make during this home trip and his sharing of the children’s heartbreaking stories, plus his own inspiring vocational journey, left all who heard him wanting to help - most of all our parish children.

Realising that most of the music at the mass he had just celebrated had been composed especially for our children, Father Peter asked Alison if she could write him a song for his children.

Fr Peter Walters in Colombia.jpg

The logo of the charity “Let the Children Live!” (Click on it to visit site and on the pictures for further information)

Fr Peter Walters iwith children nighttime.jpg

Vivan los Ninos - the Song

Alison’s memory of composing the song:

“On the Monday, the day following Father Peter’s request,  I was driving over to Rothley to give the children of a family their weekly piano lesson when a melody came.  I arrived at the Lloyd’s home with the tune bouncing around in my head and asked if I could first use their piano to jot down the notes before commencing with the lesson. The children (Alison, Michael and James) didn’t mind and I was able to quickly confirm the notes of the melody so that I could work on them later.

“On my return home I continued working on the song completing the musical arrangement and recording a trial version of it the following morning. Father John contacted Father Peter, now giving an appeal elsewhere in the country, and told him we thought we had something suitable. Excited, he said he would “nip off the motorway” on his way back through the Midlands for a hearing.  I then made a cassette recording of the first orchestration for him to take away with him.

(Click on the above image to see the original doodle)

“He arrived later that afternoon, by which time Father John had started working on the words. We played him the song and showed him a sketch of the lyrics. He was very pleased and enthusiastic, and even rang his secretary, Pauline, to play the recording over the phone to her . . .”

It wasn’t later that day that Father John finished the words of the song, using the phrase “Vivan los Ninos - let the children live” for the chorus, with the verses acknowledging the plight of street children around the world.

Father Peter also composed verses for the hymn personal to the charity and when we later published the song we included both sets of hymn words in the presentation.

Vivant with our song.jpg

Vivan los Ninos - the launch

The Doncaster branch of the charity and home town of Pauline Allan, the charity’s administrator, arranged the launch of the song at an Ecumenical Songs of Praise held at St Peter in Chains Catholic Church in Doncaster.  “Vivan los Ninos” was the finale to the evening and was led by the singers and musicians from St Michael’s Church of England Primary School in Rossington.

Vivan los Ninos - the annual workshops and the workshop recording . . .

We decided to make a recording of the song and combine it with the annual Summer Workshops held in St Theresa’s parish, by having the charity “Let the Children Live” and its support for the children living on the streets as the theme that would run through all the 1998 workshops.

During the week over three hundred children and adults came and took part in a wide range of activities - from music (singing, playing and making instruments) and crafts (painting, weaving, flower arranging, stone painting) and games (football, keep fit) and various activities for the adults, including an introduction to various complementary therapies. All tutors gave of their time freely and the workshops raised funds towards the recording.

The culmination of a workshops week was always a workshop concert, but this year we first invited people to come and sing on the choruses for the ‘Vivan los Ninos’ song.  On Saturday, 22 August, nearly one hundred (aged 3 to 70 years) came to St Theresa’s church, where Mike and Mark from White House Sound recorded the results.

Over the years the workshop weeks had become an ecumenical event for the village of Birstall, with members of the other local Christian Churches and village community taking an active part - as both participants and helpers. Our workshop week finished on that same Saturday evening with a concert in the Birstall Methodist Church.

During the week a large collage was put together signed by some of  those who sang. Eugene photographed it for us so that the image could be incorporated into the artwork for the reverse of the CD insert.

(Click on the above highlighted words to view the various documents)

Children dancing.jpg Vivan Poster.jpg

Vivan los Ninos - the recording and the people who sang

For the recording we decided to present the song as if it was a story being told by a mother to her 5-year-old daughter, with more and more people coming to join in with this musical telling of the street children’s plight. Marian and Joanna were the mother and daughter leading the singing, and as the song progressed they were joined in the story-telling by Bernadette, Father John, Susan, Estella, Debbie, Rosanna, Danielle, Leanne, the Watermead singers and - last but not least - the workshop week’s children.

The finished recording was produced as both a cassette and CD recording and was Watermead’s first venture into the digital world of Cds.  We decided to produce the song twice on the recording - a sung version and an instrumental version which could give flexibility to its use as a fundraising aid. The instrumental track could be sung to or played along (in the key of the sheet music pack) by any who wished to use the song in their own support work for “Let the Children Live”.  The finished cassette/Cd had 3 tracks and with the middle was to be our hymn “O Child” - a song of life - which sings of the ideal that we would pray every child should be given.

The insert cover for the recording was desinged  to contrast the life-style of our Joanna and Father Peter’s Julieta (a pseudonyme) in Colombia.  (Click on the pictures of the two girls below to read the contrasting messages).

Group with CD Poster.jpg Jennifer and glue.bmp Joanna and recorder 2.bmp

For further information on - click on the various highlighted areas of above CD image

Listen to the CD on our Project pages