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Cantonese Anthem: Locus Iste

Instrumentation: 4-part mixed chorus (S.A.T.B.) and organ

Duration: ca. 4'30"

Language: Cantonese Chinese

Composition Date: 2018.10

Première Date: 2018.11.01

Première Artists: The Choir of All Saints' Cathedral, Hong Kong (Conductor: David Ho-yi Chan)

Remark: With sponsorship from CASH Music Fund, this piece is commissioned by All Saints' Cathedral, Hong Kong for the 90th anniversary of construction of the current church site

Sample Recording:

Score Preview: Contact the Composer


Text in Original Language:








Programme Notes:

Since the missionaries from Europe and the United States came to evangelise in China, the translation of early hymns has been primarily literal. In the past twenty years or so, attempts have been made to translate with reference to the Cantonese dialect. Although not numerous, there have also been original creations of Cantonese spiritual songs that are influenced by pop culture.


Tones and their contours in Cantonese have been presented major obstacles in composing Cantonese choral works. As traditional sacred choral works from the West carry deep artistic nuances, it is not possible to perform with Chinese translation. As a result, the creation of Cantonese choral works mostly stops at only aiming for the melody to fit into the tonal inflection of Cantonese, but not other choral parts. The remained few choral works achieve the goals with parallel writings in music, but which destroy the space and lyricism between melody and harmony. There are also very few works with different choral parts simultaneously singing to different words, but which are difficult to differentiate clearly. The truth is, when phonetics and semantics are distorted, the audience will find it hard to appreciate.


The anthem for mixed voices This Place (Locus Iste) is commissioned by All Saints’ Cathedral, Hong Kong in 2018 with sponsorship from CASH Music Fund. Premiered at the anniversary service of the Cathedral on All Saints' Day on 1st November 2018, it is written to commemorate the 90th anniversary of construction of the current church site. Based on the fruit of labour of predecessors, the composer has used counterpoint, rich harmonic syntax and an array of stratified treatments on text in order to compose a choral work that:

  1. matches tonal inflections for all voice parts; 

  2. has audible texts for the audience;

  3. is of a reasonable level of difficulty; and

  4. derives melodies according to the linguistic tones of the adapted biblical text (albeit with just a little more tonal and rhythmic considerations), and connects them by building the musical structure coherently.  

In order to facilitate bilingual presentation in churches, the composer has arranged the English version on the basis of the Cantonese version. All glory, honour and blessing be to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, world without end. Amen!

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