Alii Sunday at Kawaiahao

31 08 2009

Liliu's portrait

Yesterday was Alii Sunday at Kawaiahao Church in Honolulu, honoring Queen Liliuokalani (b. 1838-d. 1917), sister of King David Kalakaua. She reigned as the last monarch of Hawaii from 1891 to 1893 when she was overthrown. Her birthday is September 2.

Each Alii Sunday, the Hawaiian Royal Societies and other ahahui (Hawaiian clubs) walk in the  processional, and the front pews are reserved for them.

Yesterday I attended as a member of the Koolauloa Hawaiian Civic Club with Kamakea, our vice president. We rode in to Honolulu with her son Kaimana, who is a member of the Royal Order of Kamehameha I.

This post shares the highlights for me. You may wish to go sometime. Visitors are welcome to Sunday worship service. Portions are in the Hawaiian language. Kawaiahao is part of the United Church of Christ.

Kawaiahao Church is on the corner of King and Punchbowl streets. A plaque describes its construction

Kawaiahao Church is on the corner of King and Punchbowl streets. A plaque describes its construction.

Kawaiahao plaque

The Hawaiian Royal Societies, or Aha Hipuu, are a special sight. They include:

Royal Order of Kamehameha I who wear red and yellow capes over black suits. The different patterns and lengths of the capes indicate rank.

• Hale O Na Alii O Hawaii, whose members wear white with red and yellow capes. Hale O Na Alii O Hawaii at Kawaiahao

Ahahui Kaahumanu, whose formal attire consists of black muumuus, black hats and deep-yellow lei resembling feathers.

Ahahui Mamakakaua—Daughters and Sons of the Hawaiian Warriors wear black with red, black, and yellow capes (some capes have green).

Other groups who were represented on Alii Sunday were the Daughters of Hawaii in their pure white hats and muumuus (they operate the Queen Emma Summer Palace), the children of Queen Liliuokalani Children’s Center (QLCC is supported by Liliu’s estate, and its beneficiaries are the orphan and destitute children in Hawaii with preference to those of Hawaiian ancestry), and the Association of Hawaiian Civic Clubs that strung crown flowers into 52 strands of lei to drape on the statue of Queen Liliuokalani at the Hawaii State Capitol following the service.

Crown flower was Queen’s favorite. The lavender blossom drapes the left side of her portrait, at the top of this post, and the altar in the next photo.

Kawaiahao interior

At left are the Ahahui Kaahumanu ladies in their formal black in the foreground. Aunty Ilima and Aunty Millie in purple muumuu sing Liliuokalani’s compositions, “Tutu” and “Paoakalani.” [See comment below.]

The church service itself was more lively and less formal than the congregational ones I attended in high school, about the last time I went. Admittedly, that was a few decades ago!

Kalowena gave a tribute to Queen Liliuokalani, and in her remarks she wondered, if Liliu’s time and our time coincided, would Google have given her an edge in maintaining Hawaii’s place in the world? Would her compositions be on iTunes, and would she be blogging and twittering?

This Sunday there was frequent applause, lots of “Amens” by the whole congregation, a testimony by a recent member for the sermon, and a hip-hop dance performance of the Black Eyed Peas’s “Where is the Love” by the youth ensemble. Apart from the pipe organist and choir in the back balcony, there was an ohana (family) choir of anyone else who wanted to sing from the front of the church.

Until she became Queen, Liliuokalani led the Kawaiahao Church choir. She composed more than 150 songs. Some were lyrics only, some were melodies without lyrics, and the rest were full arrangements. At Sunday’s service we sang “The Queen’s Prayer.” A fitting recessional was her “Aloha Oe” now famous around the world. I felt so sad.  ~ Rebekah

[See comment at the bottom.]

If you go …

Do view the 20 original portraits in oil painted by Susan S. Hoffstot entitled “Alii of Hawaii — The Hoffstot Collection” that are displayed on the walls of the right and left balconies. These were a gift from the artist and her husband William H. Hoffstot, Jr., “… to the glory of God, the honor of the Hawaiian people and the enrichment of the State of Hawaii” and dedicated on September 2, 1973.

[UPDATE: The portraits were painted by Patric Bauernschmidt, not Susan S. Hoffstot. Please read the comment by Patric’s granddaughter André below.]

In addition to the church building are other historical structures. One is the tomb of King Lunalilo. Read the plaque explaining why Lunalilo is not buried at the Royal Mausoleum with the other monarchs.

Lunalilo's tomb

Another is a fountain on the King street side of the church. That’s the Library of Hawaii and Honolulu Hale city hall in the background.

Kawaiahao fountain

Kawaiahao fountain sign

The motto translates, "The life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness."

And a third is the seal on the gate to Lunalilo's tomb. "Ua mau ke ea o ka aina i ka pono." This motto became the Hawaii state motto, and it means, "The life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness."

Copyright 2009 Rebekah Luke

Rev. Rebekah Luke has a healing ministry and is ordained by the Universal Life Church. The only two tenets of the ULC are “Freedom of religion” and “Do the right thing.” For more information, click on REIKI HEALING BY OELEN on the menu bar.

Suggested reading:

Liliuokalani. Hawaii’s Story by Hawaii’s Queen. Mutual Publishing, 1991. ISBN 978-0935180855 Paperbound.

Liliuokalani, Her Majesty Queen. The Queen’s Songbook. Honolulu: Hui Hanai, 1999. Edited by Dorothy Kahananui Gillett and Barbara Barnard Smith. ISBN 0-9616738-7-7 Clothbound Edition and ISBN 0-9616738-8-5 Paperbound Edition.

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