Composer of “Cross of Our Hope” to Speak at Saint Mary's College

Blessed Basil Anthony Moreau
Blessed Basil Anthony Moreau

Gwen O’Brien
Director of Media Relations
Saint Mary’s College
(574) 284-4579

October 20, 2011 (Notre Dame, Ind.)—Saint Mary’s College is proud to host a lecture by Steven Warner, the composer “Cross of Our Hope,” a song that celebrates the tradition of the Congregations of Holy Cross and its founder Blessed Basil Anthony Moreau. “Crafting ‘Cross of Our Hope’: The Story of a Song and Saint Mary’s College” will be held at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, October 26 in Regina Chapel of Regina Hall. The public is invited to attend this free lecture.

Warner is the founder and director of the Notre Dame Folk Choir and director of liturgy resources for residence halls at the University of Notre Dame. He has also been a member of the University’s campus ministry staff since 1979.

He began writing “Cross of Our Hope” in anticipation of the beatification of Moreau on September 15, 2007. “When I wrote the song, I wanted to achieve several things,” Warner said. “First, write a piece that would work for both guitar and organ, so that it could be done simply (for instance, in our residence halls). But it also had to be a piece that would shine in a larger and more formal venue like the Basilica of the Sacred Heart. I also held before me the prospect of writing the piece in several languages because the Holy Cross family embraces several continents and many cultures. In its full form, ‘Cross of Our Hope’ exists in English, French and Spanish.

“Finally, I wanted to base the song directly on missionary exhortations of Father Moreau. Reading his letters, there is an unabashed zeal that he constantly shared with his community. It was my goal to create a piece that reflected that zeal.”

Saint Mary’s College was founded and is sponsored by the Sisters of the Holy Cross. “Cross of Our Hope” comes from the motto of the Congregations of Holy Cross, which in Latin is “Ave Crux Spes Unica” or  “Hail to the Cross, Our Only Hope.” The refrain of the piece is:

“Cross of our hope, and tree of our salvation,
Sown in our land, and spread near and far,
Life-giving fruit, our portion and our promise,
Ave Crux! Spes Unica!”

Saint Mary’s College invited Warner to speak in conjunction with the College’s focus this year on its Core Value of community, according to Judy Fean, director of Campus Ministry at Saint Mary’s College.

“We wanted to offer some kind of presentation that celebrated and invited deeper reflection on some aspect of community,” Fean said. “The song has become a favorite on campus. We sing it at many liturgies and prayer gatherings. It has become a way that we celebrate and come to understand what it means for us to be a Christian community in general and to be a Holy Cross community in particular.” The lecture is part of the Cross Currents Program’s Collegiate Speakers Series, funded by the Lilly Endowment’s Initiative to Promote Opportunities through Educational Collaborations.

Fean thinks the South Bend community, in particular those who are connected to the Holy Cross tradition, would be interested in attending.

“We hope that those who are affiliated with Holy Cross institutions, parishes, religious and those connected to the hospitals, might join us to share in the discussion about what it means to be people who are shaped by the cross, our only hope. Being part of the mission and vision of the Congregation of Holy Cross invites us to take the major themes and principles of the Holy Cross spirituality as guiding principles for our own lives. We hope others will see this as an opportunity for spiritual growth and reflection.”

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About Saint Mary’s College: Saint Mary’s College, Notre Dame, Ind., is a four-year, Catholic, women’s institution offering five bachelor’s degrees and more than 30 major areas of study. Saint Mary’s College has six nationally accredited academic programs: social work, art, music, teacher education, chemistry and nursing. Saint Mary's College ranks among the top 100 “Best National Liberal Arts Colleges” for 2012 published by U.S.News and World Report. Founded in 1844, Saint Mary’s is a pioneer in the education of women, and is sponsored by the Sisters of the Holy Cross.