Fr. S. J. Berchmans

  • Genres TamilChristian
  • Languages Tamil
  • Career Graph

    Career beginnings

    Fr S J Berchmans is an Indian evangelist and Christian worship songs writer-composer from Tamil Nadu. He has composed over 350 songs, mostly in Tamil. Many of his songs have been translated into other languages including Telugu, Malayalam, Kannada, Sinhala, Hindi and English. He is being viewed as an inspirational figure among Tamil Christians. He operates mainly from Kalayar Kovil in Tamil Nadu, where the head-quarters of his "Jebathottam" Trust is located. Berchmans was born on August 3, 1949 in Soosaipatti, a small village near Madurai, Tamil Nadu, India. His parents were farmers, and were devout Catholics. Berchmans was the youngest of five children. One of his aunts was a Catholic nun. As a youth he used to sing in the Church choir. He has had basic training in Carnatic and Western musical systems. After completing his high school education, he intended to become a Catholic priest and joined a Catholic seminary. While in the seminary, he improved his musical skills and by the time he became a priest, he had become well known as a good singer in the local Church circle. He was ordained as Priest in 1974. Berchmans started his ministry as a Catholic Priest in Satharasanpatti near Sivaganga, Tamil Nadu in 1978. While performing his duties as a priest, he developed a longing to do something more creative. He is said to have experienced a spiritual transformation in 1983 in a meeting organised by DGS Dhinakaran, another well known Tamil evangelist. He later began organising evangelical meetings, and composing and releasing Christian worship songs, which were received well by Tamil Christians who found the "voice...new...(and) melody...different". A land of about 5 acres was donated to his ministries by the villagers of Kalayar Kovil near Madurai. He established his "Jebathottam Trust" in the area, which now hosts an auditorium with a seating capacity of 2000, a 24-hours prayer chamber, board and lodging facilities and a shelter for helpless women. 'Jebathottam' is a Tamil word meaning "Prayer-Garden".Fr Berchmans still organises evangelical rallies in Tamil Nadu and other Indian states including Bihar, Punjab and Delhi. He also works abroad especially in Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, Canada, France, England, Germany, Netherland and Middle-eastern countries. He is now a well-known figure among Tamil Christians, and his songs are being extensively used in church worships across denominations. He still composes and releases worship songs. His latest production, released on December 25, 2012, was his 33rd volume in Tamil. Fr Berchmans had been singing in the church choir while he was young. He began composing his own songs after 1983. People found his music to be "different" as compared to the traditional Tamil Christian worship songs. Unlike many musicians, he does not prefer composing his songs under special environments or with a band of fellow musicians. He composes melodies spontaneously mostly during his morning worships and sometimes while preaching in church. He released his first four volumes of compositions under the title "Visuvaasa Geethangal" (Songs of Faith), and the later ones under the title "Jebathotta Jeyageethangal" (Songs of victory from Prayer Garden). His latest volume was released on December 25, 2012, which was the 33rdvolume in Jebathotta Jeyageethangal series. Altogether he has composed more than 350 songs, mostly in Tamil. His songs have been translated into other languages as well including Telugu, Malayalam, Kannada, Sinhala, Hindi and English.

     
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