Friday 24 June 2011

A Walsingham Pilgrimage Hymn

Fr Mark Woodruff writes:

In 1990, Fr Peter Lyness, now of the Catholic Diocese of Westminster but at the time Assistant Administrator of the Anglican Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham, remarked to me that it was a shame that at Walsingham, unlike at Lourdes, Fatima and otherplaces of pilgrimage, the Shrine had not developed its own body of hymns and liturgical music. He thought it was a pity that, despite the words of the present Anglican Walsingham Pilgrimage Hymn being so treasured by generations of pilgrims, the tune was none other than the Lourdes tune. He suggested I have a go at writing a tune for Walsingham.

I took the tune I had written back to Walsingham along with some verses I had written as an additional resource (based on the first three verses of the nineteenth century hymn by Jeremiah Cumming) - an alternative or companion to the other much loved verses. I presented it, with Father Lyness' encouragement, to the then Adminisrator, the late Fr Roy Fellowes who subsequently served as a Catholic priest in the diocese of Lancaster in retirement. "That's no use," he said. "Pilgrims come here and they like the hymn they know already." So pretty much ever after that it remained in my drawer.

In 1994, however, it was recorded by the Choir of the University of London Chaplaincy of Christ the King, Gordon Square, for a cassette, Ladye of Walsingham, commissioned for a short run of 50 tapes by Pilgrim Tapes Ltd (now Pilgrim CDs and Tapes). I have never once received any royalties from or given permission for the sale of further tapes, let alone its transfer to CD, despite representations. Nor is my work as author and composer acknowledged. It is very disappointing that a business which presents itself as a Christian enterprise has resolutely resisted for 17 years the rights and dues of  a copyright holder.

In the mid 1990s, partly to remedy this, copies of the hymn and music were made available at low cost through the old Christian Literature Association bookshop at Faith House in Tufton Street, managed at the time by Mr David Chapman, who is now Manager of St Paul's Bookshop by Westminster Cathedral (a not-for-profit charitable enterprise of the priests and brothers of the Society of St Paul - proceeds go to the Society's work to promote the gospel through contemporary means of communication). When stocks were exhausted, I did not replenish them; but I gather that since that time the text and tune have continued to circulate and even featured at Catholic celebrations in honour of Our Lady of Walsingham.

Given the growing interest in the Catholic community in Walsingham as our National Shrine of Our Lady in its 950th year, with a particular emphasis on healing, life and reconciliation, I am making the updated hymn and its tune generaly available free of charge.

I make no claims for the quality of the verse beyond saying that it seems to have been useful in the past and may still be of service. In case this is so, it is now dedicated especially to the priests and people of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham.

Download A Walsingham Pilgrimage Hymn here (pdf file)

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