Jennifer Burke/Catholic Courier | 03.04.2021
What does a extra than-100-year-old track about whaling in New Zealand need to do with Lent 2021?
An area priest, Father Justin Miller, tapped into the newfound reputation of the previous to assist Auburn Catholics perceive among the methods the 2021 Lenten season shall be completely different from these of earlier years. The consequence is a well-liked YouTube video that options Father Miller singing about Lent from St. Mary Church in Auburn, the place he’s parochial vicar.
“Quickly could repentant-time come, a time for praying for everybody. What method, earlier than Lent is finished, will you see God’s kingdom develop?” Father Miller asks rhetorically in track.
The track Father Miller sings within the video is a sea shanty, which is the kind of conventional folks track that may have been sung within the 1800s by seamen as they labored on massive crusing vessels. This style obtained an surprising increase in reputation in late 2020 and early 2021, when customers of the social media platform TikTok started posting movies of themselves singing sea shanties. Lots of the movies featured one track particularly, titled “Quickly Could the Wellerman Come,” or generally merely “Wellerman.” This track from New Zealand is a few whaling ship and its crew’s encounter with a proper whale.
Father Miller noticed among the TikTok movies of individuals singing this track and “couldn’t get the tune out of my head,” he recalled. Reasonably than feeling irritated by the catchy track’s endurance, nevertheless, Father Miller acknowledged a possibility for evangelization.
“A couple of days earlier than Lent, I spotted that I may change the lyrics and make an introduction to Lent and the peculiarities of Ash Wednesday throughout coronavirus,” Father Miller stated.
“Wellerman” opens with the strains, “There as soon as was a ship that put to sea, the title of that ship was the Billy o’Tea. The winds blew up, her bow dipped down. Oh blow, my bully boys, blow.” Father Miller’s Lenten adaptation of the shanty opens with the strains, “O there was a time when all may see, black foreheads on Ash Wednesday. What a change this yr shall be, blow, ye ashy mud, blow.”
Later within the track, Father Miller defined that ashes could be sprinkled on Catholics’ heads this yr fairly than rubbed on their foreheads in a Vatican-suggested try to keep away from bodily contact. He additionally reminds Catholic viewers of the Lenten practices of fasting and abstaining from meat.
“Ash Wednesday and every Lent Friday, we eat no meat or fowl-like prey, no snacks earlier than your fish filet, we quick lest we plateau,” he sings.
Father Miller stated he’s hardly the primary individual to switch a secular work on this method.
“There may be an outdated sample among the many Catholic custom of taking secular literature and poetry and adapting its meter and type to Christian themes,” he stated, noting that whereas he was in seminary he studied well-known Greek performs that had been modified to incorporate Jesus and Mary as fundamental characters.
“I had been desirous to repurpose some folks and Irish songs with lyrics associated to Auburn or Catholicism in Auburn, and this was the primary enterprise in that space,” stated Father Miller, who is also parochial vicar at Sts. Mary and Martha Parish in Auburn and Our Lady of the Snow Parish in northern Cayuga County, which each are clustered with St. Mary Parish.
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