Sanctuary Song

Written by Richard Fortmann

Variation and Arrangment by Jeff Thomas


Performed by Philadelphia Sanctuary Choir

Alto: Katy Avery
Bass: Thann Scoggin
Soprano: Becky Siler
Tenor: Dan Taylor

Accompanied by

Cello: Ezgi Yargici
Viola: Alex Kruchoski
Piano: Jeff Thomas

Sanctuary Song was written and composed to be performed by choirs or small groups. If you’d like to obtain a copy of the score for a performance of Sanctuary Song, or would like to send us your own recording, please contact us by filling out the form below.

The lyrics for Sanctuary Song were inspired by the tragic deaths of Oscar and Valeria, but were written in the broader context of the desperate need for immigration reform in this country. (Download PDF)

Óscar Alberto Martínez Ramírez
His daughter, Valeria, almost two years
North from El Salvador, on into Mexico
Heading for Texas, a life without fear

Father and daughter, drowned in the water
Arms round each other in reeds by the shore
Pray for the fathers, the mothers, the children
Pray for them all and for so many more

El Chaparral and Nuevo Laredo
Paso del Norte, Nuevo Leon
So many doorways to hope now are closing
All in the name of protecting our own

Óscar Alberto Martínez Ramírez
His daughter, Valeria, almost two years
Father and daughter, dead at the border
The end of their journey, the worst of their fears

Oh, Sweet Jesus, hear our prayer, hear our prayer
Love is in the shadows, darkness everywhere
Shine your light, Sweet Jesus, on the tired and the poor
On the orphan and the stranger
On the lonely and the weary
On the hungry and downtrodden
On the homeless and forgotten
Seeking shelter on our shore

Help us make their stories heard.


Based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Sanctuary Song is a non-partisan group of community-minded individuals and organizations, both secular and faith-based, seeking justice for all human lives, regardless of race, creed, sex, gender identity, age, or country of origin. Contact us to learn more and share ideas.