Moomooga

You’ll hear this beautiful lament at just about every Samoan funeral. It is a farewell to a loved one who’s gone home to rest with Ieova, our Lord.

Mo’omo’oga sa molia i talosaga
sa nofonofo fa’atasi i lenei olaga
A o lenei ua vala’au ina oe
e Ieova o lo taua leoleo mamoe

Musu e fo’i atu ma le tagi
Manatua aiga o lo’o fa’atali
Ua vala’au ina e oe e le Tupu i le Lagi
O la’u penina o oe la’u pele tasi

Faimai Paulo, o le Kerisiano e fa’amaoni
Faatigaina puapuaga se’i oo i le oti
Nofo i tugamau o tatou tino e oli’oli
Fetaui i le Lagi o loo o i ai lou ta nu’u moni

Musu e fo’i atu ma le tagi
Manatua aiga o lo’o faatali
Ua vala’uina e oe e le Tupu i le Lagi
O la’u penina o oe la’u pele tasi

A’e ulufale i le nu’u tumau
ua e ai le manuia e sau tua selau
O i ai ma le ola fo’i e fa’avavau
fa’atali pea ia i lo’u Matai pe a vala’au mai

Musu e fo’i atu ma le tagi
Manatua aiga o lo’o fa’atali
Ua vala’auina e oe e le Tupu i le Lagi
O lo’u penina o oe la’u pele tasi

39 Replies to “Moomooga”

  1. This song was written by my great grandmother Eseta Lameta Palamo of Vaimoso. It was written for her only daughter Anapogi who died aged 7 years old. I do believe it was written in the early 1900’s and the original song consists about 17 versus.

    • Thank you for mentioning this. My friend HC Tauanu’u gave me that information when I was in Auckland, NZ presenting a paper on Samoan Ancient Music (Faleula Conference, 2007). Alofaaga.

    • WTF no way bro.
      My Great Grandfather wrote that song, I have proof that my Great Grandfather wrote it too, it’s in the books of Samoan history that my Great Grandfather wrote it. His name is Sopoaga Unetera, he was a Faifeau of EFKS but back then it was called LMS.

      LMS (now known as EFKS) has a large known history of past Faifeau and my Great Grandfather was very well known amongst them. No there isn’t 17 verses there is only 4 verses. The original song that is written by my Great Grandfather wrote it about Timo who died from a fall from the coconut tree. Timo is Tumama Vili’s cousin. Tumama Vili is currently an EFKS Faifeau in Christchurch, he is the Toeaina of the EFKS community meaning that he is the overseer of all the South Island EFKS in New Zealand. Which means that he is very well known with his Samoan History but mainly the History of EFKS/LMS.

      My Great Grandfather, Sopoaga Unetera was and still is buried in Vaovai Falealili where he wrote Mo’omo’oga.

      Many have tried to claim my Great Grandfathers song, but I will not stand by and allow people to take away my Great Grandfathers beautiful song.

    • Sorry correction, my spell check was on.
      My Great Grandfathers name is Sopoaga Lauvi Aneterea.

  2. Songs written from the elders back then are priceless!. This song is sung at every funeral I go to and the harmony is just fitting for the sad occasion. I pay homage to the elder samoan freelance song writers for their gift, their songs have been passed down so many generations and will continue to do so.

  3. This song was written by a Minister Lauvi Anetelea Sopoaga Falealili he wrot it about a young boy named Timo who drowned.

  4. He is the original composer Sopoaga was a faifeau in vaovai falealili at the time and had 10 children he wrote this song about Timo who drowned. Sopoaga is buried in front of the church in vaovai falealili usually when the church bells ring the song plays.Everyone in the Efks know who composed the song it has been rewritten and changed by many people for malius. The faki of the pese has similarities to the Fijian pese Isa lei I have dates and the rest of the verses but I might have to charge you lol.The recent remake was an Efks church in Christchurch .

    • Malo lava Sapphira, According to Pisu Palamo (see his comment posted here on Dec. 7, 2013), the words were written by his great grandmother, Eseta Palamo in Vaimoso. However, based on my research and musical analysis, the tune was composed by Karauna Solomona, a well-known composer from the “Au Salamo Family in Apia/Faleasiu.” He set up a brass band in Vaimoso and entered the first brass competition in 1921, and won first place. During the political struggle with New Zealand in the 1920s, Karauna became a very strong member of the Mau organization. He led the Vaimoso brass band that led the Mau demonstration against New Zealand, the very demonstration during which Tamasese Lealofi was killed by New Zealand troops. Karauna was also the composer of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Requiem.
      If you read the first paragraph, “Mo’omo’oga, sa molia i talosaga, Ta nonofo faatasi i lenei olaga,” it depicts a true love of a mother for the death of her only seven-year-old daughter Anapogi.
      Rev. Sopoaga may have borrowed this song / lament in remembrance of Timo’s tragic death. It has been our tradition to borrow a popular tune for special occasions/services and words can be changed accordingly.
      It is evident that a Fijian composer had borrowed this tune for “Isa Lei.” This is truly a Samoan tune and I have a copy of music/words (transcribed/arranged).
      Alofaaga.

  5. Hi Paul so sorry for the delay, very interesting research. Thats great to hear about the brass band in the 1920’s and the events that occurred after the song was written. Correct me if Im wrong is this “Eseta Palamo” born in 1882 -1950? Do you have the exact year and age that she wrote the song please?And then we can compare dates, If this is the correct Eseta I beleive Sopoaga was born earlier than her and deceased earlier than she. Ive reserached in Falealili and they actually use the song as a Vii to Timo, their version of the song has “Timo” in the verse Some of the other verses are biblical where sopoaga used quotes form the bible. Other verses have the names of the village members of that generation that still have decendants alive today. Another verse also talks about when the village were running to the scene. I have been to Vaovai a few years back and have seen where the apparently beleived Timo had drowned and also Sopoagas grave and Plaque on the church.

    • Malo lava Sapphira, It’s very interesting if we look at the first verse “Mo’omo’oga sa molia….ta nonofo faatasi i lenei olaga” (it was a wish/prayer of a woman that she lived together – ta nonofo – with her together in this life) and the ending lines of ‘tali’ (Musu e… La’u penina, la’u pele toatasi (my pearl, my only dearest one). That line refers only to my one and only child inscribed by a woman. It doesn’t seem to fit if written by Rev. who had ten children. That is why I wanted to know if Timo was a son/daughter or member of the church.
      Of course, other verses reflect biblical scriptures, but that doesn’t mean only pastors in those days wrote songs with verses from the bible. You’ll be surprised that some of the most beautiful songs were written by prisoners who loved to quote bible verses.
      Since you’ll be in Samoa by Dec-Jan, I would suggest you visit Eseta’s family to get the exact dates.
      According to retired Prof. Ueta Solomona (University of Fiji), his uncle Karauna Solomona was adopted by LMS missionaries (late 1800s?) who started the first band in Malua. That is where Karauna began his career as composer/band director. It is also interesting to interview Ueta now residing in Vaivase to confirm dates of his uncle.
      Karauna wrote a requiem (Vi’i) for Robert Louis Stevenson died in 1894. He must be in his twenties at that time and in his forties while in Vaimoso
      Hope you’ll come up with some interesting facts regarding the origin of this song. You are absolutely correct that there were a lot of borrowing tunes/words in the 1900s – present.
      It reminds me of a well-known composer Talitimu Toleafoa who wrote many traditional songs for many villages (e.g. Faauta o le mea matua lelei…; Aue ta fefe; etc). His tunes have been borrowed with words revised by many faalumas for village choirs in flag day activities.
      Alofaaga

  6. Other villages around that time had also claimed the song was theirs i.e Saanapu the reason being Sopoaga maybe from their. Sopoaga is what you can call a Phantom composer where he composed alot of songs/hymns but was never credited or acknowledged for his songs/work. (being a humble faifeau from kua could be one of the reasons).At that time Samoa did not have CopyRights to their songs to protect their work, Sopoagas last two remaining daughters have passed away over 2-3 years ago both in their 90’s. There is still one remaining noble elder that may give you the substantial evidence that you may need, who is still alive today, residing in the village of Saleimoa and goes by the name of Italia.
    If you are in Samoa I’ll suggest you visit these places. I have photo evidence that maynot be of good use for its only photos.
    The E.F.K.S archives (if any) could also be of use to you.
    Songs, stories and myths and ledgends, gafa in Samoa were generally passed down through generation by firstly taloaga/spoken word. Important information was recorded, some recorded incorrectly and some lost which is unfortunate. I respect that Eseta in her own right composed the song to her 7year old daughter Anapogi but may have different verses to Sopoagas. Could it be that Eseta borrowed Sopoagas song? Or shall I say “shared” for as Samoans when generally dont borrow things because we will never get it back, but “shared” since we share food, land, resources and even songs. It is unfortunate that Eseta and Sopoaga are not here today (may they both R.I.P) to give their side of the story. I beleive that both of their families will have passed down to thier generations that they were both the original composers which they may have both been. I have Sopoagas original verses if you wanted to ponder over them I can email it to you. I hope my information has been useful to you and I may need to further my reserach and go to Vaimoso.

    • Talofa Sapphira, I really appreciate your input and I agree that our history, etc were passed via music/talanoaga. I was only interested how you got your info. Are you related to Rev. Sopoaga? You said he wrote it for Timo. Was he a son/daughter or church member? Do you have the dates Rev. Sopoaga was a pastor in Falealili? This is one of my favorite Samoan love song and it is appropriate/fair to acknowledge the true author/composer. Anyone can change the words to fit its purpose but it cannot take away the uniqueness of the original words. Anyone can use the music for something else but it cannot take away the original spirit/intent of the composer.
      Pisu Palamo said her grandmother wrote it in the early 1900’s in Vaimoso and she wrote 17 verses. During that time, Karauna Solomona, a renown composer of LMS church music was a band director in Vaimoso. Was this a coincidence? I never heard a choir/group that recorded different words for this song. I am looking forward to meeting Eseta’s family in Vaimoso next year. Who knows…Karauna and Eseta might be related or friends? Karauna started a brass band in Apia, Afega and then Vaimoso. I can also stop by in Falealili to view Rev. Sopoaga’s tomb and collect more info relating to this song.
      Alofaaga.

  7. Wow sounds Great! I totally agree with you, hopefully with the new findings wont open a world war 3 lol Sopoaga and Eseta are probably from the same generation. Timo and Taisali (not sure if correctly spelt) should/could have decedants still alive today. Christchurch EFKS a few years back had recently recorded it and paid tribute to the original composer. I am neither from Falealili nor Sa’anapu or Christchurch I am a new generation. I also studied Viis of songs from Savaii that people now claim wrote, that are actually written by people of special needs in wheelchairs/ or should I say market beggers that samoans themselves dont even want to acknowledge.
    Yes I agree its a lovely song that is used and loved by many. I will hopefully be in Samoa in Dec-Jan so I will definetly go to Vaimoso and further my knowledge. Manuia le aso

    • Yes the EFKS in Christchurch did pay tribute, that EFKS the Faifeau Tumama Vili is a relative of mine from my Grand Mothers side. I just call him Uncle, but anyways Rev Tumama had to ask my Great Uncle if the EFKS could use it and my Uncle had to go to Samoa and ask other elders there and they said yes, that is why EFKS could use the song.

      Sopoaga Lauvi Anetera is my Great Grandfather. He is the original composer of the song. Timo actually died from a fall from the coconut tree. Timo is a relative of my Uncle Rev Tumama Vili of the EFKS.

      So yes it was my Great Grandfather and I have written proof as well.

  8. The closest recorded dates that the song was written would be between the late 1800s to 1908 no later than 1908 the reason being is that the song was written before rev sopoaga had any children.I have seven verses on me with two different choruses one is ‘musu e foi atu ma le tagi ‘ and ‘tagi e , e Maligi loimata’ but I believe the song was written late 1800s but will confirm my dates after my return from Samoa. I also have new knowledge that sopoaga is also from faleasiu from the maiava family where his family took music lessons as sopoaga was a pianist his nephews and grandchildren had a band called ‘matagi mai sasae’ from poutini sa’anapu where the song ‘ le matagie ,ua agi malu mai’ originated from. I hope my findings have enlightened you all manuia le po.

    • Wow, Sapphira.
      Thank you so much for your comment, it really touches my heart that people have this kind of knowledge of my family. Seriously, thank you so much.

      If you want more information about my family then I would be more than happy to share with you and yes my entire family are very musical. It runs in the blood.

      Honestly I absolutely hate it when people try and claim my families songs as there own which is why I’m so happy that you’ve posted your comment.

      May God bless you.

      p.s my family are also well known for carving/art as well as music.

  9. Hi Paul you can listen to Sopoagas verses of the song sung by mapusaga youth choir/christchurch on youtube if you hadn’t heard a choir sing it before

  10. Hi Sapphira, the common practice of borrowing music and changing lyrics started from the 1800’s to the present. Anyone could borrow a popular music and write his/her own words. Today, there is copyright law in Samoa that prohibits this practice. I hope you will have time to visit Prof. Ueta Solomona(now residing in Vaivase) during your research about Samoan ancient music. Ueta is the first Samoan to earn a musical degree (1960s) and he is from a well-known musical family “Au Salamo”. It would be interesting to find out about their music history/background. His father Mata’utia Pene Solomona, Uncles Karauna Solomona, and Papalii Taime Solomona had taught many choir/band directors throughout Samoa including American Samoa (late 1800’s- early 1900’s). They are known for their traditional love songs (e.g. Oi si a’u Rosa e, by MPS) and church music (e.g. Lota Nu’u ua ou fanau ai, by MPS). Many musicians have borrowed their music and changed words for special occasions. My wife Diana and I will visit Samoa again next year to conduct choral workshops for church choirs and more research in church music. I am very busy working on a new hymn book. If you have more questions on Samoan music, please contact dianapouesi@gmail.com
    Alofaaga.

  11. I le ava ma le faaaloalo tele, Faafetai Seumanutafa Sopoaga, I too agree with you that people should not take credit for stuff that is not theirs. Forums like these help provoke conversation and consider the facts and authenticity as mentioned by Paul & Sapphira.

    Thank you Paul & Sapphira for confirming & validating that my grandmother Eseta Fretton Lameta Palamo from Vaimoso wrote this song. E moni ai le poto o Solomona ” O lana fua i o’u luga o le alofa lea” Malo le foe, Malo le folau manuia.

    • You believe what you want to believe. Mo’omo’oga is my families song.
      But hey it’s just a song, you can borrow or even have our family song because I now realise that it’s not worth fighting for.

      For the Lord is all my family needs. What is more important to me and my family is God for it says;
      Romans 8 : 5-8
      “Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to Godʼs law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.”

      So take it, have it, keep it, for I take the Lord, I have the Lord and I shall Keep the Lord.

  12. Talofa Sapphira – you posted Timo was drowned and Sopoaga said Timo fell from a coconut tree? I think it’s better to post your findings on this song after your research. We don’t want to offend anyone but it’s a fact that borrowing music/words has been a common practice since the mid-1800’s. I can give you many examples. Many of my music are borrowed by others and then they insert other words to fit a special occasion (e.g. Jerome Grey borrowed my music Naunau i le Ufi). It is okay as long as they acknowledge the person who wrote the music/words. I know the Seumanutafa family in Apia – I’m related to them. I know my uncle Karauna Solomona/Apia was the first band director in Vaimoso in the 1800’s. So there must be a connection with Pisu’s family. I also have families there. Research is imperative to find out the origins of music/words. I just discovered through my research that my uncle Mata’utia Pene Solomona wrote the tune for the renowned LMS patriotic hymn “Lota Nu’u ua ou fanau ai.” (words by LMS Missionary James E. Newell). You can contact me via my wife’s email dianapouesi@gmail or dianapouesi@yahoo.com if you need more info on old/new Samoan church music or traditional love songs. Manuia le aso.

  13. Well, very interesting discussion! I just stumbled across this article, and I thank you Dr. Pouesi for your clarifications. Faafetai tele, ua malie i taliga fia faalogo, to a well balanced educatedKeep up the good work, am so proud of you. Alofa tele atu. Solomona Lila Solomona (Karauna’s nephew… )

    • … Insert: ..educated research. I had a chance to meet with uncle Matautia Pene at Malofou the other day, when he told me, an answer to my question about how he and his siblings got this musical talent? He said, Solomona, their father, Faifeau LMS of Apia, befriended/faauo with some German musicians (must be during the occupation of Samoa by Germany) who taught music to his children, these musicians brought various instruments like, brass, strings, piano & percussion. So, I suppose this must be where Karauna, Karene and others got their talent from. But for him, Pene, he said he never involved with any of these Germans, he was purely being gifted by God, likewise your grandmother Siuila, Luisa and Aunese (my father) being gifted with their voices. Would you agree? Ia manuia ou faiva. Alofa atu.

  14. Talofa Sapphira — you posted Timo was drowned and Sopoaga said Timo fell from a coconut tree? I think it’s better to post your findings on this song after your research. We don’t want to offend anyone but it’s a fact that borrowing music/words has been a common practice since the mid-1800’s. I can give you many examples. Many of my music are borrowed by others and then they insert other words to fit a special occasion (e.g. Jerome Grey borrowed my music Naunau i le Ufi). It is okay as long as they acknowledge the person who wrote the music/words. I know the Seumanutafa family in Apia — I’m related to them. I know my uncle Karauna Solomona/Apia was the first band director in Vaimoso in the 1800’s. So there must be a connection with Pisu’s family. I also have families there. Research is imperative to find out the origins of music/words. I just discovered through my research that my uncle Mata’utia Pene Solomona wrote the tune for the renowned LMS patriotic hymn “Lota Nu’u ua ou fanau ai.” (words by LMS Missionary James E. Newell). You can contact me via my wife’s email dianapouesi@gmail or dianapouesi@yahoo.com if you need more info on old/new Samoan church music or traditional love songs. Manuia le aso

  15. Malo lava Sapphira, It’s very interesting if we look at the first verse “Mo’omo’oga sa molia….ta nonofo faatasi i lenei olaga” (it was a wish/prayer of a woman that she lived together — ta nonofo — with her together in this life) and the ending lines of ‘tali’ (Musu e… La’u penina, la’u pele toatasi (my pearl, my only dearest one). That line refers only to my one and only child inscribed by a woman. It doesn’t seem to fit if written by Rev. who had ten children. That is why I wanted to know if Timo was a son/daughter or member of the church.
    Of course, other verses reflect biblical scriptures, but that doesn’t mean only pastors in those days wrote songs with verses from the bible. You’ll be surprised that some of the most beautiful songs were written by prisoners who loved to quote bible verses.
    Since you’ll be in Samoa by Dec-Jan, I would suggest you visit Eseta’s family to get the exact dates.
    According to retired Prof. Ueta Solomona (University of Fiji), his uncle Karauna Solomona was adopted by LMS missionaries (late 1800s?) who started the first band in Malua. That is where Karauna began his career as composer/band director. It is also interesting to interview Ueta now residing in Vaivase to confirm dates of his uncle.
    Karauna wrote a requiem (Vi’i) for Robert Louis Stevenson died in 1894. He must be in his twenties at that time and in his forties while in Vaimoso
    Hope you’ll come up with some interesting facts regarding the origin of this song. You are absolutely correct that there were a lot of borrowing tunes/words in the 1900s — present.
    It reminds me of a well-known composer Talitimu Toleafoa who wrote many traditional songs for many villages (e.g. Faauta o le mea matua lelei…; Aue ta fefe; etc). His tunes have been borrowed with words revised by many faalumas for village choirs in flag day activities.
    Alofaaga

  16. Talofa Sapphira — you posted Timo was drowned and Sopoaga said Timo fell from a coconut tree? I think it’s better to post your findings on this song after your research. We don’t want to offend anyone but it’s a fact that borrowing music/words has been a common practice since the mid-1800’s. I can give you many examples.

  17. One question:What was the date that she wrote the song? All we have to do is compare simple no ref to who said what etc etc people want the truth and like I said earlier I respect your truth but wheres the evidence ? I told you the tomb in Vaovai Falealili ?

  18. Wow! This conversation is interesting. What I take from all this is that this song, along with many other songs, have different meanings for different people. Eseta, Sopo’aga, Solomona. Very cool. I’d post my lineage but that doesn’t matter. It’s a beautiful song. That’s all that matters. Manuia.

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