Father Linus has been revered for his enormous contribution to the Catholic Church as a great lyricist of voluminous Christian poetical meaningful hymns. Fr. Linus’s hymns are inspirational reflections. Spirit filled creations of Fr. Linus convey the biblical message of love, forgiveness, justice, compassion, grace and peace. They invite people to experience God’s immense love and compassion, and to extend that love to our fellow brothers and sisters and to walk in life as faithful followers of Jesus.
‘Sathuta Samaya’, ‘Kankalu Rasabara’, ‘Sonduru Lassana’ ‘Katu Athi Aththaka’, were some of the very first hymns composed by Fr. Linus in early seventies. Meeting great musician Mervin Perera in early years of his priestly ministry in nineteen seventies gave limelight to his compositions. Most of the hymns penned by Fr. Linus were musically directed and sung by Mervin Perera. Few LP Records titled ‘Rosa Kekula’ and ‘Sathuta Samaya, were similarly released with Fr. Linus’s famous hymns by this time.
In mid-eighties, Fr. Linus presented ‘Naththal Gee’, ‘Pasku Gee’, and ‘Kankalu Rasabara Gee’, the three volumes of religious songs with 36 hymns in the format of audio cassettes.
Mervin Perera and Gration Ananda composed music for all three volumes with the vocal accompaniment of Priya Suriyasena, T.M. Jayarathne, Edward Jayakodi, Felix Anton, Nimal Gunasekara, Wibert Anthony, Indrani Perera, Neela Wickramasinghe, Chandrika Siriwardena and Vinishiya Siyambalapitiya.
Father Linus has also been well-known for his renowned compositions of many popular Sinhala songs sung by a galaxy of popular singers from nineteen seventies onwards. Evergreen memorable songs, ‘Suwadethi Kusumaka’ sung by veteran music maestro Mervin Perera and popular songstress Neela Wickramasighe, ‘Nilambere Kalum Piri’ sung by popular singer Felix Anton together with revered songstress Rukmani Devi,’ and ‘Pae Adere Chethana’ sung by Mervin Perera and Rukmani Devi, were penned by Fr. Linus in mid nineteen seventies. The charming melodies for Fr. Linus’s wordings were composed by sensational musician Stanley Peris. All three creations are equally popular even today.
‘Seetha Yame Atha Yame’ (Priya Suriyasena for the music of Stanley Peris), ‘Komala Hasarali’, ‘Ayadinne Nae’ (Punsiri Soysa for the music of M.R. Chulasinghe, and Priya Suriyasena), ‘Sandu Hiru Ve’, ‘Sahan Suwe’ (T.M. Jayarathne for the music of Clarence Wijewardena), ‘Sithe Sathuta Jeewethaye’ (Chandrakumar Kandanaarachchi for the music of Lal Thenabadu), ‘Ma Dayabara Priyaviye’, ‘Oba Ma Sakakara’ (Milton Mallawaarachchi for the music of Stanley Peris), ‘Gala Enne Gangulak Se’ (Keerthi Pasqual with Deepika Priyadarshani for the music of Sarath de Alwis), ‘Mage Sudu Mage Wasthuwa’ (Keerthi Pasqual for the music of Nawarathna Gamage), ‘Wenwu Da Sita’, ‘Sitha Oba Gaena’ (Felix Anton for the music of Stanley Peris and Sarath de Alwis), ‘Mage Athithaye’ (Mervin Perera), ‘Sav Sriyen Neth Dinu (Latha Walpola), are some of the memorable popular songs composed lyrically by Fr. Linus Mendis.
In 1986 Gration Ananda invited Fr. Linus Mendis to compose lyrics for the theme song (Gration’s first film music direction) of the Sinhala film, ‘Durga’ (Sung by Priyankara Perera. The film was directed by K.A.W. Perera).
Among Fr. Linus’s compositions, there are impressive Buddhist devotional songs penned during the time of his parish ministry in Uva Wellasse in nineteen seventies.
A unique feature in Fr. Linus’s compositions is his choice of soothing artistic simple poetic word arrangement for the charming enrichment of his creations. Though some of his songs are apparently secular, they express a deep religious value in meaning.
In year 2007, Father Linus released the song album with the title,
KuSumaKa’ , composing nine new songs, as a tribute to Mervin Perera with some of his old creations. Father Linus was assisted by Earnest Soysa and Gration Ananda in composing melodious music for some songs here, with Neela Wickramasinghe, Nelu Adhikari, and Uresha Ravihari, joining in duets. Six melodies had been composed by Mervin Perera himself whose melodies manifested a charming sensational sweetness.
International Signis salutation award winner, Gration Ananda’s one of the last song albums ‘deSithaKa Gee’ (Released in year 2007), was another collection of songs that took shape with Fr. Linus’s rhythmical wordings, synthesized with music and melodies of Gration himself. Gration sings thirteen new compositions of Fr. Linus with the accompaniment of Sarasavi and Hiru Golden Film Awards winner, songstress Uresha Ravihari in two duets and also with the old song ‘Ma Dayabara Priyaviye’ (Originally sung by Milton Mallawarachchci), as a tribute to Milton and Stanley Peris.
In year 2010, Father Linus launched the first volume of his hymnal ‘Kankalu Rasabara Gee (SinG a new SonG to the Lord)’ with 42 of his great memorable Sinhala compositions. Each hymn is complemented here with its melodic notation and a concise classification. The volume includes hymns for all seasons, Christmas, Lent, Easter, and hymns for penitential services and hymns devoted to Mother Mary.
Father Linus had rendered a yeoman service as a Diocesan Director for UNDA and OCIC in Sri Lanka. He contributed a meaningful service as director of the Sinhala Service of Radio Veritas Asia in Philippines in year 2000.
As an exemplary shepherd, Fr. Linus follows a Christ like approach to the people whom he serves. Most of his religious compositions are a manifestation of his life experience cherished in his priestly ministry while serving the poor, downtrodden, outcast, and marginalized in society. His vision and concern for the poor and the marginalized was a great significance. He has left his salutary and indelible mark in the minds and hearts of people from all walks of life to whom he has been ministering during last forty two years, as a humble servant of God, as a zealous pastor and a great missionary apostle.
Father Linus Mendis is presently serving as an Administrator of a Parish in the Arch Diocese of Boston in the United States of America. May he experience God’s love with his choicest blessings always.
Written by Anton Narangoda