May Crowning Hymn
  • Don9of11Don9of11
    Posts: 624
    Every month I author a short story about an old "new" Catholic hymn. In anticipation of the Month of May, a special time set aside by the Catholic Church to honor our Blessed Mother, I’ve decided to release this month’s story a little early. This story is about the most widely used and well-loved of all Marian hymns for May Crowning: “Bring Flowers of the Rarest,” sometimes referred to as the Crowning Hymn because of its chorus, “O Mary, We Crown Thee with Blossoms Today.”

    Even though other hymns were composed, this hymn was never superseded. Take a few minutes to read about the author and composer of this wonderful hymn and listen to the singing of the hymn by St. Mary’s Choir - a real old-fashion Catholic choir! Be sure to share this story with your priest, music director, and friends.

    https://www.motherofmercycatholichymns.com/
    https://www.facebook.com/MotherofMercyCatholicHymns
  • ServiamScores
    Posts: 2,128
    I'm afraid there's nothing new to see in the news/blog portion of your website. I can't see where I'm supposed to click to read this article.
    Thanked by 1Don9of11
  • Don9of11Don9of11
    Posts: 624
    Oh, sorry. It's under "HYMN OF THE MONTH"
    here is a direct link: https://www.motherofmercycatholichymns.com/bring-flowers-of-the-rarest/
  • Please forgive me but with all the conversation about quality and appropriate music in good taste, I. always fail to see how hymns like this are any better or worse than "Sing to the Mountains"?
  • Read Lucy Carroll's essay (I think it's at the Adoremus Bulletin). Whether you find her argument persuasive or not, it's the most intelligent defense of the practice I've ever seen.
  • Don9of11Don9of11
    Posts: 624
    Chris, are you referring to the tradition of having a May Crowning? I would like to read this essay but I couldn't locate it on the Adoremus website.
  • Not the crowning itself, but the treacle-ish music called 'devotional' music.
    Thanked by 2tomjaw LauraKaz
  • oldhymnsoldhymns
    Posts: 194
    Thank you so much, Don, for initiating “the hymn of the month.” What a wonderful idea! And nothing could be more appropriate for Our Lady’s month of May than your choice of “Bring Flowers of the Rarest.” This hymn was the most popular hymn for May Crownings in the 20th Century among Catholics in all English-speaking countries; it was never replaced by trendy songs. Prior to Vatican II—and maybe a few years afterward—students would learn this hymn starting in the first grade in Catholic schools. If taught to the young, it is a hymn they will cherish for their lifetime—never to be forgotten.

    I liked reading your historical perspective and reflections on the hymn, too. I always thought this hymn first appeared in S.N.D.’s Wreath of Mary of 1883. Now I have learned from you, however, that it actually was found a few years earlier in the Laudis Corona Book of 1880.

    Your reflections on the hymn were quite moving—even stirring--also. I recall learning the words to the second verse, which you have reflected upon, when I was in Catholic elementary school: O thus shall we prove Thee, How truly we love Thee, How dark without Mary, Life’s journey would be. To this day, they remain my favorite words of any hymn; and I continue to reflect upon them.

    Fortunately, this hymn, has reappeared in some recently published hymnals including Noel Jones’, A Catholic Book of Hymns, which includes the best accompaniment for Bring Flowers of the Rarest I have ever seen.

    Thanks for your excellent research and for sharing this truly Catholic gem! I look forward to the hymn of the month in June.
  • Don9of11Don9of11
    Posts: 624
    Chris, I continued to look on Adoremus website but from what I can tell there is no such essay by Lucy Carroll. In her book, HYMN WRITERS OF EARLY PENNSYLVANIA in chapter 7, Catholic Hymnody in Early Pennsylvania she writes about the Hymns and Hymnals, Sodaliity movements, the Sisters of Notre Dame in which she writes specifically about the hymn "Bring Flowers of the Rarest" and Mary Walsh, "Mother Dear O Pray For Me", and "Just for Today." She also writes about Eleanor Donnelly and her Sacred Heart hymns especially "Like a Strong and Raging Fire." There are a few pages on Albert RoSewig and his music for the hymn "Heart of Jesus, Hear" she credits the text to a Sister of Joseph of Philadelphia. Perhaps, this is the essay you're referring to? As someone researching Catholic hymns I found her information and remarks invaluable.

    Oldhymns, thank very much for those kind words. Other individuals and groups where I shared this article have written similarly in their remarks and have indicated how much the Marian hymns sung by the choir ment to them. A testament to the strength and beauty of these hymns to touch souls.
  • tomjaw
    Posts: 2,452
    We sang "Bring Flowers... " today, The head reads the text and thinks ? ... while the heart is happy with the sentimentality. We sang this in school May crowning 40 years ago and have sung this at every Parish May crowning for over 40 years... Could we sing something better? possibly, will it mean as much? Other options won't be as sentimental, which could be a good thing.

    N.B. This is the only English Hymn / English text we have sung this year!
  • Don,

    Perhaps my memory is faulty. I didn't read the article at the website, because at that point in my journey we still received Adoremus as a paper copy delivered to the house.

    Thanked by 1Don9of11
  • Don9of11Don9of11
    Posts: 624
    Chris, not to worry. I get the bulletin from Adoremus as well. I actually miss the Mouse Squeeks that Lucy Carroll contributed.
    Thanked by 1noel jones, aago
  • We crowned our Mary statue today during the opening procession, to the hymn "Come Ye Faithful, Raise the Strain (GAUDEAMUS PARITER). After the opening verses, a collect was read, and then coronation was performed as we launched into the verse:

    Now the queen of seasons, bright
    with the day of splendor,
    with the royal feast of feasts,
    comes its joy to render;
    comes to gladden faithful hearts
    which with true affection
    welcome in unwearied strains
    Jesus' resurrection!


    I thought it quite suitable, and the proximity to the liturgical action helped to firmly tie the allusion to Mary, nicely binding into one text the themes of Easter, Mary, and the glorious echoing of Eastertide in the flowering Spring.
    Thanked by 1tomjaw
  • SponsaChristi
    Posts: 360
    We specifically didn’t sing this hymn for our May Crowning or Marian procession today because we feel, after singing it years prior, it’s too shmaltzy and syrupy. We sing Holy Mary Now We Crown Thee, with a strong regal pulse and stop registration.
  • noel jones, aagonoel jones, aago
    Posts: 6,604
    Anyone who is against Bring Flowers, if you are married, suggest throwing your wife's grandmother's china in the trash.

    'Cause that's what you are doing to your congregation, right in front of them.
  • SponsaChristi
    Posts: 360

    Anyone who is against Bring Flowers, if you are married, suggest throwing your wife's grandmother's china in the trash.

    'Cause that's what you are doing to your congregation, right in front of them.


    Most of our congregation is quite young, isn’t familiar with the old Marian devotional songs that are written as waltzes, as that was the popular music at the time it was written, and no one sings anyways. Maybe if they’d sing the hymns and songs in the processions we’ve had over the years we’d sing it again.
  • francis
    Posts: 10,144
    it’s too shmaltzy and syrupy
    Thanked by 2MatthewRoth LauraKaz
  • tomjaw
    Posts: 2,452
    Anyone who is against Bring Flowers, if you are married, suggest throwing your wife's grandmother's china in the trash.
    'Cause that's what you are doing to your congregation, right in front of them

    Noel
    While I remember our school crownings each May from 40 years ago, we were one of the only schools to still do this... We have a 97% lapsation rate in the U.K, so only a very tiny minority of current catholics will remember it.
    My original Parish also did May crownings but this died out decades ago when a new Parish priest destroyed the Latin N.O. Mass, and key members gradually left. With the decline of that parish due to 2 very poor parish priests only a few members of the congregation remember such things, and they have not experienced them for decades.

    Our Parish restarted a May crowning as part of the Trad community that had been doing a May crowning in various places for the last 60 years. So our Trad parish crowning is only a decade or so old, and only a minority of those remember May crownings from previous places.

    The N.O. community have caught on over the last couple of years and they have a smaller crowning before the main N.O. Mass. I do not know what the N.O. community sing, but could find out. The Sisters who run the children's groups at the N.O. phoned us up to sort out the parish statue, flowers and crowns on Friday. A few years ago they had a new statue of Our Lady erected outside their convent, so the Trad May procession processed down there with our bier and smaller semi portable statue to crown their new statute. We had fresh flower crowns for our statue and flower girls, using fresh flowers left over from an EF wedding on Saturday.

    For many of us we are building new traditions, so we need to think carefully as to what we introduce. Just because it was done in the past does not always make it suitable or worthwhile to reintroduce. These new traditions can mean just as much to people starved of devotions as the older practices were to catholics decades ago. Our music programmefrom our crowning.
    Thanked by 2Don9of11 CHGiffen
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 3,155
    When building new traditions make sure you do not let the 'concrete' set before you have finished adjustments. My wife devised a devotion for Good Friday evening at St Georges Cathedral, and on trying to make changes in year 4 got complaints beginning "Oh but we always ..."
  • bhcordovabhcordova
    Posts: 1,112
    We are having May Crowning next Sunday. I hope we get to sing 'Bring Flowers of the Rarest'. It may be syrupy and schmaltzy, but it is what we sang as I was growing up on May Crowning. And what's wrong with being a little syrupy and schmaltzy when we are honoring our mother?
    Thanked by 1Don9of11
  • oldhymnsoldhymns
    Posts: 194
    If Bring Flowers of the Rarest is sentimental, I'm glad to know that I am singing my own sentiments as I attempt to honor Our Lady in her month of May.
  • Schönbergian
    Posts: 1,063
    Anyone who is against Bring Flowers, if you are married, suggest throwing your wife's grandmother's china in the trash.

    'Cause that's what you are doing to your congregation, right in front of them.

    Could you not say the same about phasing out songs like Here I Am, Lord, I am the Bread of Life, On Eagle's Wings, and others that inspire similar feelings from many members of the congregation, but are similarly of little lasting theological import?
  • Shoenbergian,

    I was confused by what Noel meant, and now I can't figure out whether you're arguing in favor or HIAL, IATBOL, OEW et al.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,756
    No one wants grandma's china these days and you can't give the stuff away to the younger folks. I agree "bring flowers...etc." is saccharine, but I only had to use it once a year. That's not often enough to react negatively toward it. It is one of those hymns that seem to have nostalgic meaning to many people. I don't see that it does any harm.
    Thanked by 1tomjaw
  • PaxTecum
    Posts: 276
    Holy Mary Now We Crown Thee is what we used as well.
  • oldhymnsoldhymns
    Posts: 194
    About thirty years ago, while visiting the gift shop at Westminster Cathedral in London, I purchased a cassette, “Hymns We Used to Sing—a selection of favourite Catholic hymns of the past.” Father Charles Shepherd, C.SS.R., formerly Provincial of the English Redemptorists, introduces and reflects upon each of the 12 hymns before it is sung. Naturally, Bring Flowers of the Rarest is included in the selection; and I wanted to share Father Shepherd’s apt reflection with you of this hymn:

    “…and what about the children themselves? We complain today about their sophistication; we often think they grow up far too quickly. The world and its attractions can all too soon entice and capture their hearts, but are we adults any better? Perhaps this devotional practice of crowning Mary Queen of May will help all of us. May the words of this simple hymn help to keep our children in innocence and purity of heart. May they touch that hidden spark in the ashes of our own wasted years and bring our faith and love to light once again.”
    Thanked by 1Don9of11
  • Don9of11Don9of11
    Posts: 624
    I have been reading a book about Sr. Mary of St. Philip Lescher, she was a teacher at the training college in Liverpool. She and Sr. Mary Xavier Partridge and Sister Mary of St. Joseph Winfield knew each other. All three were Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur and all three were hymn writers. Recently, the archivist from SNDdeN emailed me and indicated that Sr. Mary Xavier was the author of Sr. Mary of St. Philip's biography. Anyway Sr. Mary of St. Philip had this to say about old hymns.

    ...she would counsel the students to keep up the practice of singing such old hymns as “ Hail, Queen of Heaven.” “ For, my dears,” she would say, “ there may be some old sinner in the congregation, who has come not to pray, but to see his child in her new white frock, and if he hears the children singing, as he once sang when an innocent child—

    ‘ Mother of Christ, Star of the Sea,
    Pray for the sinner, pray for me,’

    the familiar words will touch his heart as no new hymn, however beautiful, could do.” An old student wrote long years after she had left College: “ When I look back on my past life, I realise that some of the most fervent prayers I have ever said were the hymns I sang as a student .”

    Never underestimate the providence or good that can be imparted to someone who comes to church and only God know why, they need to hear that old hymn. I will continue to write about these old "new" hymns and share them so that people of all ages can learn about them, who knows, young or old, they need to hear it. If I can bring one soul back to God, it's worth the time an effort.
    Thanked by 1StimsonInRehab
  • Schönbergian
    Posts: 1,063

    I was confused by what Noel meant, and now I can't figure out whether you're arguing in favor or HIAL, IATBOL, OEW et al.

    My point is that this community would not really tolerate such an idea when it came to that repertoire, and so it should not be applied to Bring Flowers either.
    Thanked by 2MatthewRoth LauraKaz
  • oldhymnsoldhymns
    Posts: 194
    Today I had the good fortune to be able to attend the annual May procession at St. Benedict’s Center in Still River (Harvard), Massachusetts.  Following a Solemn High TLM at 11 a.m., the procession formed with the participants singing seven verses of ‘Tis the Month of Our Mother.  The pilgrims (about 400 strong—young and old) processed to each of five statues of Our Lady on the extensive grounds of the St. Benedict Center.  At each station, all would very enthusiastically sing Bring Flowers of the Rarest as the particular statue was crowned.  Following each crowning, a decade of the rosary was said.  Other traditional hymns such as On This Day, O Beautiful Mother and Hail, Queen of Heaven, the Ocean Star were sung as people were moving between the stations.  Again, the seven verses of ‘Tis the Month of Our Mother were sung after the last crowning.  The May procession culminated with Solemn Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament at an outdoor altar, which was followed up with a hearty picnic!  A great day for the throngs of people who came to honor Our Lady in her month of May!
  • Don9of11Don9of11
    Posts: 624
    I was invited to my home parish of St. Mary's in Akron, Ohio for Mother's Day, a first communion and May Crowning. I thought you might like to read about this and see some of the photos I took of this event. It was a beautiful sunny day and for an outdoor May Crowning.

    https://www.motherofmercycatholichymns.com/st-mary-parish-may-crowning/