09.09.2016 - The procession...

...provides us with a picture of our own lives: The people of God in transit. What and Who is their destination? This persistent, age-old question is more pertinent than ever today.The 2019 Hanswijk ...

02.08.2016 - Procession 2019: Sunday the 19th of May 2019


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Pictures of previous editions


Opening ceremony

Sunday 7/10/ 2012: Opening ceremony in Hanswijk Basilica with televised Mass.

Oratorio "Dixit Dominus" composed by Johan Duijck.

(Friday 30/11/2012 - Saturday 1/12/2012 - Sunday 2/12/2012)

The annual Hanswijk Procession held in the medieval city of Mechelen is one of the oldest religious processions in Belgium. The local people carry a statue of the Virgin Mary through the streets, accompanied by musicians, choirs and dance groups. The festival is said to have originated in 1272, when Mechelen was saved through the intercession of the Virgin Mary from an epidemic of the plague.

Every 25 years a jubilee year is held, in which special religious and cultural activities emphasise this ancient tradition. This of course includes music. In the Hanswijk Jubilee Year of 1888, Edgar Tinel (1854-1912), a famous Flemish composer, composed his oratorio Sint-Franciscus, which was performed in the cathedral. Since then, many composers and performers have followed in his footsteps, e.g. Staf Nees (oratorio Ave Maria, 1938), Flor Peeters, Peter Cabus (my composition teacher) and Peter Pieters (cantata Mater et Advocata nostra, 1988).

The oratorio Dixit Dominus was commissioned by the committee for the 12th Hanswijk Jubilee. It is a work that shows how God repeatedly calls man and how man either accepts or rejects Him. While compiling the text, I deliberately did not follow a chronological order of events, but chose themes from the Old and New Testament and put them together like a puzzle. All the texts are taken from the Bible, apart from the central piece Gott spricht zu jedem nur from the poet Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1926). In this poem he describes how God gives man responsibility and freedom.

For this composition many performers are necessary: narrator, baritone (Jesus), soprano (Maria); mixed choir, children's choir, organ and chamber orchestra. As I was composing I often thought of Benjamin Britten (1913-1976), one of my favourite composers, who said: 'Even today it is possible to write fresh and original music in C major.'

I dedicate this work to my Catalan alter ego Josep Prats, conductor of the outstanding choir Cantiga from Barcelona.


Jubilee procession.

Sunday 5/5/2013

12th Hanswijk cavalcade: 25/08/2013 - 01/06/2013

Historical records indicate that no edition of the Hanswijk Cavalcade has ever been exactly like the one before. The first editions illustrate the litanies of the Blessed Virgin; later, a religious element would be added to the historical tableaux. But one thing has remained constant: all of the editions of the Hanswijk Cavalcade over the centuries have had a religious character. For a tradition to survive, it must be able to constantly reinvent itself. In the contemporary context, the choice of a religious content that is broad and universal was an intentional one for this 12th edition of the Jubilee Festivities. There is a common thread weaved throughout it: man's vocation. This universal message can be found in the slogan of the logo created for the Hanswijk Jubilee festivities: yes | live | live intensely]

Unlike previous editions, a common thread will connect all the groups in the Hanswijk Cavalcade. Biblical scenes will present archetypes of humanity; the historical themes will portray ways in which the people of our regions have said "Yes" to life and to God over the centuries. The links between the different groups will make the 12th Hanswijk Cavalcade a strongly coherent whole, and the message will be more accessible to a diverse audience of spectators.


 See « History » - «Previous editions »