Friday, March 7, 2014

Montage # 146 – Say your prayers

As of  April 4, 2014, this montage will no longer be available on Pod-O-Matic. It can be heard or downloaded from the Internet Archive at the following address:



As we do every year at this time, our podcasts take on a Lenten flavor, pulling titles from the sacred music catalog. Today’s podcast is one of those, though it looks more broadly at music inspired by prayers.

Acting as bookends, I close two “popular” titles that leverage this idea. The first title, by Romanian violinist, conductor and composer Georges Boulanger was originally titled “Before I die” and would later be called "My Prayer" with a text by Jimmy Kennedy. It was charted in the number one spot for 21 weeks in 1958 in the USA and it is that performance by The Platters that opens our montage.

The closing piece is the iconic performance by Canadian chanteuse k.d. Lang of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah; many cover versions have been performed by many and various singers, both in recordings and in concert, with over 300 versions known. The song has been used in film and television soundtracks, and televised talent contests. It is often called one of the greatest songs of all time. In 2004, k.d. Lang first recorded her cover version of the song, and has since sung it at several major events, such at the opening ceremony of the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver, before a claimed TV audience of three billion. Of her version, Cohen’s partner singer Anjani Thomas, said: "After hearing K.D. Lang perform that song […] we looked at each other and said, 'well, I think we can lay that song to rest now! It's really been done to its ultimate blissful state of perfection'."

Four well-known “prayers” make it in one form or another in this montage, including Ave Maria (Hail Mary) including the inevitable “well known” settings by Gounod and Schubert, Notre Père (Our Father), Let my prayer be set forth before thee (from the Russian Orthodox hymnal) and the Confiteor (or I Confess), usually part of the opening tranche of the Catholic Mass. Poulenc also sets to music a quartet of prayers attributed to St-Francis of Assisi.

“Musical” prayers by Alkan, Franck and Joaquin Turina complete the montage.

I think you will love this music too!

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