Church Choir

on 1st May 2023 by Sali Malika

Glory to God in the highest. And on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests ~ (Luke 2:14)

The heavenly choir by the angels sang these words when our Lord Jesus Christ was born in Bethlehem two thousand twenty-three years ago. Today about five hundred thousand holy masses are celebrated all over the world daily, and all of those Masses start with those angel’s words. As everyone knows, music has a soothing effect and can create a divine feeling. In the Old Testament, there are several narratives of the positive effects of music. We can see one such incident in the book of 1 Samuel 16:23. It says, “Whenever the bad spirit seized Saul, David would take the harp and play, and Saul would be relieved and feel better, for the evil spirit would leave him.”

In the second half of 1980, Syro-Malabar and Knanaya Catholics in North Jersey decided to have a Malayalam Holy Mass every month at Ascension Church in New Milford, New Jersey. Thomas Achan from Jersey City agreed to celebrate the mass and in 1990 the mass was moved to the Holy Trinity church in Fort Lee. Around the same time, Fr. Joseph Sauriamakkil began celebrating mass for the growing Knanaya community by 1994. Mass continued in this Fort Lee church every fourth Sunday until 1996 and other regions in the tri-state area also had Malayalam mass. The New Jersey choir was always available to assist these other regions for special celebrations.

Following Sauriamakkil Achan, the New Jersey choir has had the privilege of working with Michael Nedumthuruthil Achan, Thomas Pralel Achan, Thomas Aanimoottil Achan, James Pongaana Achan, Reny Kattel Achan and presently Bins Chethalil. Until the dream of our own church came true in September 2019, we moved around various churches in New Jersey. In 2011, Reny Achan started Holy Mass every Sunday and we had our first Christ the King Perunnal (Raasa) in April of 2013. Since then, we have had at least one perunnal every year.

After being actively engaged in church and choir in the tri-state area, in 2017 I concentrated on the New Jersey choir and got the added responsibility of the sound system. We bought a sound system in 1998 which is currently being used in Christ The King Church’s basement and the first six months following that was really difficult. The Linden church authorities did not allot us a space to keep the sound system in the church or in the basement. As a result, I brought home the sound system, keyboard and stand after every mass and brought it back the following month for each and every mass. Finally, they allotted us a space in the church basement, and many people assisted to carry the whole system into the church on our shoulders and back into the basement when mass was over. Now, I am happy we have our own church with our own sound system and keyboard that can be kept in a designated choir space at all times.

The New Jersey choir is one of the best in the whole Knanaya region of North America. While from the outside, it may not be clear how much has gone into the making of our New Jersey choir, it has a rich history with much time and effort sacrificed for this cause. In addition, we are training the younger members of our team for the youth choir ministry to support the English mass. It has been a pleasure and an honor to serve the church in this way for 40 years, and I wish the best to the new generations that will carry the torch forward.


Sali Malika

Sali Malika