My therapist always tells me that “Once a Catholic, ALWAYS a Catholic.” I guess I have to agree with her, although that statement implies that everything about Catholicism is “bad.” There certainly are, without question, some “flaws” in that faith but I do have found memories of it growing up. I loved the pageantry of it all: priests in vestments, and candles and incense and murals and stained glass windows and even the “mystery” of Latin (I grew up in an old-skool parish, pre-Vatican 2).
And the music – gosh, I LOVED the music. At least prior to the “Folk/Guitar Mass” era, LOL!
Hymns. I love hymns. Music resonates deeply with me no matter the genre, and hymns? OMG. To write a hymn, a musical piece honoring God and your faith? Wow. As a devout composer, could it get ANY better than that? I like hymns because they move people – they stir the religious conviction inside the devout and practically possess them. I always thought that singing a hymn with conviction was one level below speaking in tongues. It was like your very soul turned to song for God to hear.
I have a personal “Sacred Top Ten” – maybe one day I will share that entire list with you all. But today, Easter Sunday, is the day that one of probably my top TWO, all-time favorite hymns happen. The hymn is “Jesus Christ is Risen Today” and it is amazing. Believed to have originally come down from a 14th century Latin carol, the song “grabs” people and even those parishioners who are stone cold tone deaf belt it out with brio and verve. I.Love.It. I almost cry every time I hear it (once a Catholic, right?) The song builds and builds until, by the final chorus, the ladies I always nicknamed the warblers are literally screaming the lyrics out in church at the top of their lungs. Their male counterparts, the guys I always nicknamed the growlers, are also mumbling along in their loudest, baritone monotones… Regrettably, most recordings available on YouTube are pretty perfect performance pieces but this vid clip is close to what I remember from growing up in The Most Pure Heart of Mary Catholic Church parish in Shelby, Ohio. No matter your religious beliefs – or if you have none at all – there is no disputing that this song can “make you a believer,” if only for a few verses…
Enjoy, and Happy Easter, everyone!
BTW, here are a few images of The Most Pure Heart of Mary Church in Shelby – it still exists today, and is as beautiful now as it appears in the first undated image (which is how I will always remember the Church – only full of people.)