From the moment that Chief Petty Officer Tom D. Sands, Retired Navy Border Technician Chief, raised the flag for the Pledge of Allegiance until the choir elevated its collective voice to declare “Let There Be Peace on Earth,” late Sunday morning May 21 at St. Edmond’s Church, the theme of uplifting oneself to serve God and one’s homeland dominated.

Continuing a tradition that began in 2017, the South Philly patriotic concert again reminded the faithful that we should strive to enjoy “living as servants of God,” a bit of immortal wisdom from 1 Peter 2:16 that appeared on the event program’s cover.

“We have so many people to thank for our freedom, and we have so much to thank God for by putting those people in our lives,” choir director Chris DiLolle said of holding the post-Mass, pre-Memorial Day gathering. “We have big jobs to do as believers.”

In guiding 15 singers, the 11th-year director had his own titanic task to address as he and the gifted members offered powerful musical performances blending gratitude to God with thankfulness for His earthly helpers. Bob Seppy offered well-received piano accompaniment.

From the singing of the Pledge of Allegiance through their handling of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” “For Christ the King,” “America the Beautiful,” “Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory,” “God of Our Fathers,” “God Bless America,” and “Let There Be Peace on Earth,” each note teemed with recognition of the Lord’s saving grace, and an acrostic poem by parishioner and choir member Philomena Liberio, whose lines’ initial letters spelled out “In Memoriam,” provided a solemn air to the proceedings.

The selection of “For Christ the King” appealed especially to DiLolle, as its lyrics’ military-related word choices such as “army,” “fighting,” “sword,” “battlefield,” “comrades,” “lines of victory,” “foemen,” “helmet,” “shield,” and “unconquered” reiterated that followers must gladly accept the struggles that come with our time on earth. What helps to make the endeavor more manageable, for sure, is knowing we are united beneath “the Queen’s white and blue,” a nod to the Blessed Mother that is particularly fitting for this month.

“The songs fit absolutely perfectly,” choir member and cantor Paul Geraci said of how the pieces meshed with DiLolle’s goal of tying service to God with admiration for the military.

“This concert is always one of our highlights for the year, so we appreciate the attendance and the applause.”

He added that this Sunday’s celebration of Pentecost will yield another opportunity for the choir to proclaim its praise, with DiLolle noting that he and his contemporaries will continue to complement St. Edmond’s Masses through Father’s Day and then return after Labor Day.

No matter if a choir or anyone, for that matter, is able to augment any Mass anywhere, DiLolle added that the memory of what others have done to bring us to this day should serve as an uplifting melody by itself.

“We’re happy to do this each year,” he said, “but whatever you do to remember someone’s sacrifices, God knows your heart.”

Choir Director Chris DiLolle leads 15 singers in song during the pre-Memorial Day patriotic concert at St. Edmond’s Church in South Philadelphia. (Photo: Joseph Myers)