Imagine a Eucharistic Celebration without singing!! Such a situation would deprive the faithful of effective participation and enthusiasm during the divine celebration. St. Augustine, one of the greatest saints of the Church, underscores the major role singing plays, when he says: “When you sing, you pray twice”. Singing abundantly enriches the Liturgy, more particularly the Holy Mass where celebration is characterized by three elements; words, actions and silence.
The Archdiocese of Kampala is endowed with people amazingly gifted in singing, several of them highly qualified in Church music. These people offer their time, energy and money to animate liturgical ceremonies through singing. Furthermore, these men and women; young and old, voluntarily form choirs from sub-parish to Archdiocesan level. They regularly turn up for practice to prepare songs for liturgical ceremonies; most of them regard singing as a calling from God who gave them that gift.
Big names in the field of Church music in the Archdiocese of Kampala, include the great organist and music writer, Valerian Mayega who was based at Christ the King Parish in Kampala between the 1960s – 1970s. Others at this cosmopolitan mission, were Joseph Mugoba, a Radio Uganda broadcaster, and A.D Lubowa, the former minister in the Kabaka’s Government at Mengo during the reign of Kabaka, Sir Edward Frederick Muteesa II. Radio Uganda news Anchor, Cosma Warugaba, completed the trio at Christ the King Parish, whose product of young musicians have kept the candle burning. The three enormously contributed to the development and promotion of Church music in this Parish, in particular and, the Archdiocese, in general. Mayega was one of the choristors who started the famous Christ the King Choir, which attracted hundreds of people to make the Parish their second home of prayer. This explains why most of the people who pray at Christ the King, especially on Sundays, are not indigenous parishioners of this Parish. Time keeping plus the melodious singing, solidly keep them at Christ the King Parish established by the Mill Hill Missionaries, from the nearby Nsambya Parish, in 1930.
Nsambya was one of the Parishes that made the former Kampala Diocese merged later, in 1966, with the former Archdiocese of Lubaga to erect the present Archdiocese of Kampala. Vincent Wamala who recently celebrated 40 years of active in Church singing, says, Church music has become of age in the Archdiocese during the past 50 years. Wamala started his singing vocation at Bbiina Parish when he was still a young boy in 1978. He was spotted by one Ssembatya. After 10 years with the Parish Choir at Bbiina, he joined the Evangelical Choir at Christ the King Parish in 1988, where he has served the Lord for the last 30 years. He has been instructor in Church music for 10 years now. Wamala says he was around when the Catholic Centenary Memorial Choir, popularly known by its acrimony – CACEMHO was started in 1978, to prepare for the Centenary of the Catholic Faith in Uganda, celebrated in 1979. The move to form what later became the country’s first national Choir, was spearheaded by Emmanuel Cardinal Nsubuga. But the actual first step was made by choristers who were singing at St. Augustine Chapel at Makerere University, namely: Pantaleo Babinaga, one Mukubuya, Vincent Kirabo kya Maria and Achilles Bukenya, recalls Wamala. However, long before the inception of CACEMCHO, Rev. Fr. Dr. James Kabuye who, in 1975, was a curate at Lubaga, encouraged the beginning of the present popular music Festivals. “He even wrote a very good book, titled: “Proper Mass Songs”, Wamala recalls. At that time, the field had Choirs like St. Cecilia (Lubaga) Jinja Karoli, Mulago, St. Peters Nsambya, Nakulabye, which regularly participated in the Festival”, Wamala adds. Wamala also remembers, Fr. Thomas Odwo and Fr. Ntege, both former directors of music in the Archdiocese, for their great contribution to the formation of CACEMCHO and the general growth and development of music in this Ecclesiastical territory. Others are: Ben Jjuuko (St. Cecilia), Alifonsi Ssebunnya, MichaelMukisa, Leonard Ssemukaaya, Patrick Mbereenge, F.X. Ssebutinde, Deogratias Kasozi and many others. Cardinal Nsubuga sponsored CACEMCHO choristers for their travel to Rome where they were the lead choir for the official opening ceremony of the Uganda Martyrs Church, in 1980.