Sunday, May 31, 2009

Despedida - Repost

A repost of a hymn to the Virgin which I originally posted in January. Nick Joaquin, one of the greatest Filipino writers and a loyal son of Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary, was said to have praised this Despedida as one of the greatest, if not the greatest, religious song of Spanish Manila. It was composed by a certain P. Hernandez almost four hundred years ago, and was sung on the novenario and leading to the great Feast of Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary. For 10 straight days it was sung after each Mass; at the part when the choir sings 'dame tu bendicion', all in the church kneel while the image of Our Lady is incensed. Upon reaching 'Madre Amorosa, prenda mi amor', the image is veiled by the heavy curtains that used to be present in the old retablo mayor of Santo Domingo church, keeping Our Lady from view until the next day of the novena.

Despedidas, though, are not unique to the Santissimo Rosario; on May pilgrimages, too, they are sung at the great shrines of Mary in the Philippines, and presumably the rest of the Spanish colonies as well. However, this version is unique, in that it has remained relatively unchanged for almost four centuries now. In singing it, then, we are singing the same song which San Fernado de las Capillas, San Lorenzo Ruiz, and San Vicente Liem de la Paz sung in honor of the same Grand Dame, and which countless other Dominican friars sung before embarking on their great endeavor to spread the Gospel in these parts of the world. It is only fitting that we end the Mary month of May with it.

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