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Composer of Bring Flowers Of The Fairest No Longer Unknown

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March 31, 2009 - 11:49 PDT

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ENGLEWOOD, TN (MARCH 31, 2009) - The origin of the words and music for this, the most popular May Crowning Hymn, is listed in most hymnals as Anonymous or Traditional.

However, the composer of the music turns out to have been a popular woman composer who is known for more than just this hymn.

"Bring Flowers Of The Fairest" was composed by Mary E. Walsh, who was a pupil of the Sisters of Notre Dame. Under the title "Crowning Hymn" it was published in Wreath of Mary, 1871 and later in St. Basil's Hymnal, 1889.

Mary Walsh is also known for a piano piece that has been described as "wildly popular" when it was first published in 1897. The Black Hawk Waltz remains in print today. As a waltz it had specific waltz pattern steps associated with it.

Its popularity for more than 100 years has made original piano scores of this work bring $50 to $100 when sold by collectors of vintage sheet music.

The artwork of Black Hawk, the American Indian, on the cover adds to the appeal, though many love the music either from having danced to it or by having learned it as a piano solo, as it remains popular with piano teachers.

But who wrote the text?

In January of 1845 the phrase "Bring flowers of the fairest" appeared in literature in Bentley's Miscellany in a translation of the Latin poem Calendae Maii by Sannazaro. John Sheehan, who wrote under the name Whisk'y Drinker, translated the poem. The poem had no religious significance.

Some vague references to the text having been translated from a thirteenth-century Latin chant have been made, but researchers have not yet been able to establish this as fact.

However, J. Vincent Higginson of The Hymn Society of America and a published authority on Catholic hymns lists Walsh as the composer and author of the lyrics.

Popular Catholic hymns like Soul Of My Savior were sung to different tunes, as publishers hired composers to write new music so that they could publisher their own versions in new hymbooks.

Bring Flowers of the Fairest has escaped this fate, as it is sung universally to the music of Walsh. The reason for more versions not being composed may be due to the fact that it is only sung during May Crowning, unlike Eucharistic songs, which were sung frequently as part of devotions outside of the Mass.


Noel Jones, AAGO is the Editor of The Catholic Hymnal.

Contact

The Catholic Hymnal
http://www.thecatholichymnal.com
TN, 37329 US
noel jones - Editor, 423 887-7594

Keywords

Music May crowning

Category

Marian

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