10 June 2012

'Soul of My Saviour': Theme Hymn of 1932 Eucharistic Congress in Dublin

 From the 'Faith of Our Fathers' Concert, Dublin, 1997

I read somewhere the other day that Soul of My Saviour was the Theme Hymn for the 31st International Eucharistic Congress in Dublin 1932. The original Latin, Anima Christi, was possibly written by Pope John XXII (reigned 1316-1334). The music was written by WJ Mahler, according to one source I found.

This is one of the first hymns I remember hearing and singing, in Holy Family Church, Aughrim Street, Dublin. Part of the tune's appeal for me is that it is manly.

I got into trouble once in the seminary for playing Soul of My Saviour on the organ.  Every year our Sunday Mass was broadcast nationally for four successive Sundays. (Our national broadcasting service still has Mass on the air every Sunday morning). One year our month coincided with Lent when music was kept to a minimum. However, I decided to play the hymn at the end of one Mass so that there wouldn't be silence on the air, normally a 'no-no'. However, the Senior Dean, the late Fr Hugh Markey, a canon lawyer, gave me a verbal equivalent of the 'good clip in the year' that my late father used to threaten us with at home but never carried out. However, I wasn't expelled or excommunicated.

I mentioned in Sunday Reflections that one of the speakers at the International Eucharistic Congress opening in Dublin today is Archbishop Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila. Here is another setting in English of the Anima Christi sung by the Madrigal Singers of the University of the Philippines. 

The University has a special place in Columban history as it was there that Fr Edward J. McCarthy, one of the very first Columbans, started Student Catholic Action. The authorities wouldn't allow him to work as a chaplain so he enrolled as a student and organised his fellow students.Among other things, SCA helped prepare students for the 33rd International Eucharistic Congress held in Manila in 1936, the same year the movement began. The Archbishop of Manila at that time was Irishman Michael O'Doherty.

I know one bishop here in the Philippines who has the strange idea that people always stand when they're singing. He insists on the congregation standing even during the responsorial psalm when it's sung, as it should be, ideally. However, the Madrigal Singers, whom I saw perform in Sacred Heart Seminary here in Bacolod City, nearly always sit while they are singing.

Please continue your prayers for a renewal of faith among Irish Catholics.


Ruth Ann Pilney said...

Thank you, Fr.Coyle, for this post. I love "Soul of My Saviour" and have the recording of it on a CD of the music from that concert. I have played it so often, that I'm surprised it's not worn out!

I also like to hear the stories of your family in Ireland. Coincidentally, my father attended the 28th International Eucharistic Congress in Chicago in June of 1926. He was a boy of about 7 at that time. But, I, too, heard about it from time to time when I was growing up. My father had the faith and I see him as the most influential person who handed on the faith to me.

I will continue to pray for the strengthening and renewal of the faith in Ireland.

Fr Seán Coyle said...

Thank you, Ruth Ann. I posted last night about the impact of the 1932 Congress on my Dad. Your comment was probably in response to that too. I pray that immigrants to Ireland from such countries as the Philippines, Nigeria, Poland, India - there are many nurses from Kerala in Ireland - will help strengthen our faith and that their Irish-born children will be strong in the faith and not be drowned in values that are not those of the Gospel.