Sunday, November 22, 2015

Saint Cecilia

November 22 marks the commemoration of the patron saint of music, Saint Cecilia, in some places.  Her connection to music is perhaps a bit more tenuous than some of the legends which have sprung up around her would suggest, but it is that connection which is most remembered today.

Oh, let the organ swell the lay,
In honor of this festive day;
Let earth's harmonious choirs proclaim
Cecilia's ever-blessed name.

Rome gave the virgin martyr birth,
Whose holy skill has filled the earth,
And from the early dawn of youth,
She fixed herself on song and truth.

Then, from the world's bewild'ring strife,
In peace she spent her holy life,
Teaching the organ to combine
With voice, to praise the Lamb divine.

Cecilia, with a two-fold crown
Adorned in heav'n, we pray, look down,
Upon us exiled here below,
On earth your music here bestow.

Charles Constantine Pise, 1851; alt.
T. Tertius Noble, 1900

I believe the "two-fold crown" refers to her standing as both virgin and martyr.

The Reverend Charles Pise, an American, was ordained in the Roman Catholic Church in 1825 and served parishes in Washington DC and Brooklyn.  He was also the first Catholic chaplain of the US Senate who served for a term.  This hymn was first published when added to an American edition of Edward Caswall's Lyra Catholica in 1851.

P.S. One of the most unusual tributes to Cecilia was recorded by the Andrews Sisters during World War II: The Shrine of St. Cecilia, which can be heard on YouTube.

Seven Years Ago: If Jordan Above Me Shall Roll

Six Years Ago: Saint Cecilia

Five Years Ago: Successive Cecilias

Seven (Liturgical) Years Ago: The Feast of Christ the King

Five (Liturgical) Years Ago: The Feast of Christ the King

Three (Liturgical) Years Ago: The Feast of Christ the King

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