Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Hymn to Saint Brigid

Philomena Breslin

I've found a lovely rendition (if you like "High Voice", which I do) of a hymn sung by many Irish schoolchildren in earlier times--twentieth century, and if I read things right, nineteenth century as well. (I wonder if it is ever sung in schools there now.) 

It is sung by Philomena Breslin on her album My Wild Irish Rose, and can be purchased on iTunes for $0.99 CDN (or similar in your local monetary dialect). You can preview the song to get the tune and see if you like it. This is (I blush to say) my very first purchase on iTunes. For a more folky version, turn to Michael Connolly on YouTube.

Called here "Hymn to Saint Brigid", the song is also known as "Far Above Enthroned in Glory", and was written by Brigidine Mother Cecilia Sinnott of Goresbridge, a village in County Kilkenny in northern Leinster. The Australian Sisters have the words on their site:

Hymn to St. Brigid

Words by Mother Cecilia, Brigidine Convent, Goresbridge. Circa 1911.
Music by Sinnott (1863-1902)
Music by M.S.
Far above enthroned in glory
Sweetest Saint of Erin’s Isle
See thy children kneel before thee
Turn on us a Mother’s smile.
Sancta Mater, hear our pleading
Faith and hope and holy love
Sweet St. Brigid, Spouse of Jesus,
Sent to us from Heaven above.
Sweet St. Brigid, Erin’s children,
Far and near o’er land and sea
In the world and in the cloister
Fondly turn with love to thee.
Sancta Mater, sooth the mourner
Shield the weary tempted soul
Sweet St. Brigid, guide thy children
To thy bright and happy home.

Marcella, of Trias Thaumaturga, offers the Irish language version of the text, collected by Douglas Hyde. She says of it, " I much prefer the Irish version as the lyrics don't convey the rather twee Victorian-parlour sentimentality of the English."

Twee or not, Philomena's singing and the familiar-sounding melody are pleasant to my old-fashioned ears. 

I am a tad puzzled by the dates given on the Sisters' site, though. If Mother Cecilia died in 1902, I am unsure how she could have written this in 1911. But Saint Brigit is known for her miracles. Maybe this is another such.

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