Monday, May 10, 2010

Thanks to Our Lady (Music for Mondays)

This post is by Allison Salerno.
I'd guess that Mary, the poor unmarried Jewish teenager who 2,000 years ago agreed to bear the Son of God at considerable personal risk, is the most famous woman who ever lived. Certainly, she is the most remarkable. We Catholics dedicate the month of May to her - not because we worship her or think she gives us salvation. We honor Mary because she is in heaven, reigns as its queen, and can pray for us. Always, she leads us to her son.

So it's no surprise that Catholics throughout the ages have sung songs dedicated to Our Lady, who is the mother of us all. I thought it would be fun to share a few. (Along with a photo of a work by contemporary sculptor Enrique de la Vega.)

Blogger Lee Strong posted this tune by The Thirsting, a five-piece Catholic alternate/rap/rock band from Vancouver, Washington. The group largely plays gigs on the West Coast and in the Midwest. I hope they would consider a visit to New Jersey!

Danielle Rose, whose work I discovered this winter, created an entire CD of musical reflections in varied styles to all 20 mysteries of the Rosary. Danielle Rose now is Sister Rose Therese, living in a convent near Amarillo, Texas and no longer performing professionally. Here is her tune from her "Mysteries" CD, using the same prayer but radically different style than The Thirsting: Hail Holy Queen.

Paul McCartney, who was baptized Roman Catholic, has said this piece is about the memory of his mother, Mary McCartney. Take a look at the joy and longing in the faces of the audience members and see how this work of art transcends a son's struggle to honor his mother.

Bono, whose father was Roman Catholic, was raised Anglican and married in the Anglican Church. The lead singer of Ireland's U2 rock band says "Magnificent," is based on Mary's Magnificat.

Okay, I had to slip Joan Baez in. She isn't Catholic; her parents were drawn to Quakerism and she has said "Singing is my religion." Her rendition of the Blessed Mother's life is, as like all her work, spectacular.

The faithful have been singing about and to Our Lady for hundreds of years. Saint Ambrose of Milan, a Doctor of the Church, lived in the fourth century. He is widely credited with writing one of the most ancient hymns to Mary. Here it is, sung by a schola at the Basilca de San Marco in Saint Ambrose's hometown.