May is Mary’s month, and earlier this week I heard for the first time a beautiful new song written for her. The songwriter is Eliza Gilkyson. I had not heard of her before, and I know nothing about the circumstances behind the composition of the song, other than that it appears to have been written in the wake of a disaster at sea. Gilkyson has titled the song “Requiem”.
There are plenty of things to like about the song. The association of Mary with the sea is an old one — from the medieval hymn Ave maris stella to Eliot’s O Lady, whose shrine stands on the promontory / Pray for all those who are in ships. More to the point, the song conveys well the tenderness which Christians feel for Our Lady. It is one of the most successful popular songs on a religious theme that I have heard in a long while.
Mother Mary, full of grace, awaken / All our homes are gone, our loved ones taken / Taken by the sea / Mother Mary, calm our fears, have mercy / Drowning in a sea of tears, have mercy / Hear our mournful plea / Our world has been shaken / We wander, our homelands forsaken / In the dark night of the soul / Bring some comfort to us all / O mother Mary, come and carry us in your embrace / That our sorrows may be faced
Mary, fill our glass to overflowing / Illuminate the path where we are going / Have mercy on us all / In funeral fires burning / Each flame to your mystery returning / In the dark night of the soul / Your shattered dreamers, make them whole / O mother Mary, find us where we’ve fallen out of grace /Lead us to a higher place / In the dark night of the soul / Our broken hearts you can make whole / O mother Mary, come and carry us in your embrace / Let us see your gentle face / Mary