Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Just a few more Lyrics that I happen to like…

Kyrie, Eleison (Lord have mercy)
Who would have thought that a word like Kyrie could be repeated, expanded and embellished in so many ways. It took a while for me to figure out that the only words to Kyrie were Kyrie and sometimes Eleison. At least, I think that’s right. I’m sure that someone who has spent more time in mass would know.
Surely the record for getting the most out of a word has to go to Libera. They managed to put 18 syllables into the word Sanctus.

A really pretty song that I see a lot is Morning Is Broken whose words come from the English poet and children's author Eleanor Farjeon.
She had been asked to make a poem to fit the lovely gaelic tune Bunessan. Everyone knows this song. It begins:
Morning has broken, like the first morning,
Blackbird has spoken, like the first bird.
Praise for the singing, praise for the morning,
Praise for the springing fresh from the word.

Beautiful imagery. A lot of people thing that Cat Stevens wrote that but he only made it popular.

I have two versions of a song titled Bailero. One is by Anthony Way but the better version is by the Saint Philips Boys Choir. It’s a beautiful and haunting melody from the Auvergne region of France. A lot of opera sopranos have this in their repertoire. I really like it, but I looked up the lyrics and basically it says:

Shepherd, across the water, you are scarcely having a good time.
Scarcely, and you?
Shepherd, how do I get over there, there’s a big stream.
Wait, I’ll come and get you

That’s not nearly as romantic sounding as the music suggests.

There is another strangely popular tune of which I have several versions. Sure on This Shining Night was a poem written by James Agee, a local celeb, here where I live, and was set to music by Samuel Barber.

Sure on this shining night
Of star-made shadows round
Kindness must watch for me
This side the ground

The late year lies down the north,
All is healed, all is health
High summer holds the earth,
Hearts all whole

Sure on this shining night
I weep for wonder
Wandr’ing far alone
Of shadows on the stars.

I’m not sure I understand what all of it means but it sounds great, especially when James Rainbird sings it.

One more thing and I’ll shut up about lyrics. Just this… Venite Spiritu Et Emitte Caelitus.


  1. In the old (i.e., Latin) Roman Catholic Mass, it'd be, "Kyrie, eleison...Christe, eleison...Kyrie, eleison." With each being intoned first by the priest, and answered by the congregation. "Lord, have mercy...Christ, have mercy."

  2. Thanks, David. One of these days I'm going to have to attend mass so I will know more about it. If I ever get to England I'll see plenty.

    It's funny but here in the southern states we have been saying 'Lord have mercy' for years.