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OUR CULTURAL TREASURE… OUR FRENCH HYMNS

Whether it is coincidence or simply my 72 years of age, it seems that lately I have lost an unusually large number of members of our family and friends that are especially dear to me. Yesterday, Rosemary and I were in Nashua honoring my very dear cousin Gerald Theriault who recently died unexpectedly. He was especially well known through out the area and in our Theriault family (of St Jacques, NB) as well. Everyone loved Gerry. Talking with another cousin, Marcia Theriault in Québec, in our typically long and fun phone calls about family affairs and genealogy, the two of us mourned the loss of Gerry who had so much knowledge of the history of our St-Jacques family.

Going back to the funeral.  As Rosemary and I entered the church,  I was struck by the strains of an ancient french hymn, “J’irai la voir un jour” on classical guitar. Wow!  As we knelt at our pews, I slowly dissolved into an unimaginable catharsis. I lost total control of my composure. Rosemary didn’t know what to do with me.

To make sure you understand, this hymn without a doubt was the first that I had heard in my first experiences at our little church of Sainte Luce in french-speaking Upper Frenchville, Maine. That had to have been about 1942-43 which is almost ancient history.  🙂

The experience inspired me to open a new section of our “Acadian & Cajun Music” chapter of our website. Perhaps with your help, we will be able to remember all of those beautiful hymns that formed part of our Acadian, French Canadian and Cajun culture. Let me know of the hymns that you remember and certainly, if you have the lyrics, that would be very helpful as well.

As to “J’irai la voir un jour”, at our church of Sainte Luce of course, it was always done by organ with our parish choir. A good example is the recording by Domine Deux Rex below. Yesterday, it was performed by a classical guitarist with a male vocalist and it was absolutely beautiful. Coming home after Gerry’s funeral, I went to the Internet and found some beautiful renditions on YouTube, one most notable by a Cajun group called ‘L’Angelus’. Here are a few videos.  Turn up your sound volume:

L’Angelus 1: J’irai la voir un jour

L’Angelus 2: J’irai la voir un jour

Domine Deux Rex

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