fredag 14 december 2012

Real Catholic music

Until about 1970, there existed a widely known genre of popular and specifically Catholic music. This is one of the things that makes the 1945 film The Bells of St Mary's work so well. Starring Crosby as the young priest Fr O'Malley and Ingrid Bergman as Sister Benedict, it gives an insight into the Catholic church before Vatican 2; a contemporary audience will find it sugary. This was a time when American Catholics were mostly immigrants and their children, of Irish, Italian or Polish origin. Yet they all knew the music. Thus, when the schoolchildren are heard singing O Sanctissima the doctor picks it up and joins in, then, as Fr O'Malley starts to sing, the millionaire sitting in front of them, turns round with a puzzled look on his face and asks, "Do you know it too?", before the priest reels of the entire piece by heart.

This shared heritage of music learned in childhood was one of the things holding the community together. What happened to it? Is its demise one of the things that has contributed to the near-collapse of the Catholic church in the past 40 years?

O sanctíssima,O piíssima,
Dulcis Virgo María;
Mater amáta, intemeráta,
Ora, ora pro nobis.

Tota pulchra es, O María, et
Mácula non est inte;
Mater amáta, intemeráta,
Ora, ora por nobis.

In miséria, in angústia,
Ora, Virgo, pro nobis;
Pro nobis ora, in mortis hora,
Ora, ora pro nobis.

Tu solátium et refúgium,
Virgo Mater María;
Quidquid optámus perte sperámus,
Ora, ora pro nobis.

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