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Composing a legacy of faith through music

By Kaelanne Jordan


St Lucian Catholic composer Llewellyn Gill’s love for music was first manifested as a child of nine when he was part of the choir of the Erdiston Model School, Barbados.

He started to play the piano at 11 and has since made music.

Gill told The Catholic News he was always keen on producing his own music and his first production was a collection of songs entitled You are my Everything published in 1979.

“About that same time, I contributed one song entitled ‘We got to be Free’, written a few years earlier to the record of the Quavers Orchestra titled ‘First Class’,” Gill recalled.

His involvement in the composition of liturgical music commenced in 1981 at the Antilles School of Liturgy in Trinidad.

“This was a critical component of my musical development as it provided a ready avenue to test my compositions, learn more about the art of composing and provide an opportunity to share with other fellow composers our successes and failures.”

In later years, an opportunity was given to Gill at the School to teach others about composing in general and liturgical music in particular.

“The richness of that environment was invaluable as it provided an avenue to perform your compositions and to have them critiqued firsthand,” said Gill.

Gill’s musical compositions have evolved with time and are now concentrated in three areas: Liturgical music, Folk music and Christmas music.

“As a note of interest, I started playing the organ in Church in 1974 and continue to this day,” Gill shared.

Responding to the question on how his Catholic faith influenced the themes and emotions in his musical compositions, Gill admitted he has not considered this factor in his compositions.

“I suppose, I have been in some way led by the Spirit in the expressing of my works, which [in] conclusion, I have come to after reflecting on many of my compositions over many years.”

Gill shared he has in the recent past utilised at least one of the local rhythms in his compositions namely ‘La Comet’ as well as creole in the lyrics. He gave the example ‘Chantez Noel’ and ‘Christmas Time’. The rhythm, he said, is also reflected in some of his liturgical compositions for the Mass and Christmas music.

So how does Gill see his compositions contributing to the legacy of Catholic faith in St Lucia? “[I] Had not thought about this factor, it’s a difficult proposition in assessing local acceptance, however I believe that given my own experiences that music will provide inspiration, hope and enjoyment to many. The quality of the work will determine what lives on”.

Inspiration for liturgical settings depends on what the requirement is at the time. “I suppose that it can also be influenced by life’s events and experiences. My creative thoughts come into play, and I express them accordingly,” Gill said.

In 2005, he composed ‘the Jubilee Song’ for the Golden Jubilee of the See of Castries. Other notable mentions include: ‘Christmas and Love’, ‘Chantez Noel – (Christmas)’, ‘The Word’, ‘My Love’, ‘Listen’, ‘Fan the Flame’, ‘Honour and Praise’, ‘Hail Mary’, ‘The Creation’, ‘Jesus My Friend’, ‘By Being Reconciled’, ‘Saint Lucia’, and ‘My Beautiful Homeland’.

Commenting on the compositions that hold special significance, Gill mentioned ‘The Word’ which is a call to immerse in the Word of God; ‘Listen’ (with deceased friend Erwin Jackie), an appeal to listen to the voice deep within; and ‘Christmas and Love’, a reminder of the enduring message of the season, not only of love of God but neighbours and family.

Every artist faces challenges in their creative process and Gill admits he has not encountered that many. “However, I need to process the time and season for the music required before I attempt to compose,” he said.

He continued, “I must say that where the compositions are known, there is a great appreciation for the music. It is most apparent at Christmas, given the season and my other compositions are being played in Church on an ongoing basis. I only hear about them, but are much appreciated not only in St Lucia, but in Trinidad, Grenada, Guyana, the UK, and others.”

The use of keyboards, guitar and the drums in his music resonates with Gill. Other than utilising local rhythms, Gill has not explored other genres.

So, what impact does Gill hope his compositions have on worshippers? He said, “to draw them into a deeper worship experience” for example ‘Fan the Flame’ at Pentecost.

He has been planning to record a new CD with a combination of new Christmas songs, some new liturgical songs, and a redo of some others in a production to be entitled A time for Everything.

Llewellyn Gill’s music can be accessed on YouTube as:

Llewellyn, Jean and Friends – Christmas in the Sunshine

Llewellyn Gill and Friends – Our Christmas Song

Llewellyn Gill and the Cecilian Rays – Chasson St Lucie

Other recordings: Sing His Praise – The music of

Llewellyn Gill and Listen


Photo by Patrick Tomasso on Unsplash