Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Aleteia
Wednesday 14 April |
Saint of the Day: Bl. Hadewych of Meer
home iconVoices & Views
line break icon

What happened when Genevieve sang ‘Danny Boy’

A_Lesik | Shutterstock

Tod Worner - published on 03/21/17

When a young Catholic schoolgirl started singing the auld song, its bittersweet longing came fully forth.

The wintry Minnesota wind unsettled the tent flaps and the passing train whistled mournfully as it momentarily obscured Father’s voice. Parishioners and curious onlookers were packed into the enclosure outside of McCormick’s Irish Pub. Shifting where we stood on that particular morning in suits and sweaters, dresses and sweatshirts, everyone was smiling. Everything seemed festive.

And then, Father’s eyebrows rose as he warmly glanced at us. A puckish grin crept across his face.

“You know, the Feast doesn’t start until the Mass is over, right?”

Everyone nodded and laughed.

“Well, then. The Mass is over.”

More laughter and broad smiles.

After all, this was a different sort of Mass.

This was the Feast of St. Patrick.

But before our various lives wandered away to work or to play, responsibility or (perhaps just a little innocent) irresponsibility, two young Catholic schoolgirls led us in the ballads, When Irish Eyes Are Smiling and Wild Irish Rose. Their young voices, at first bashful, were enriched and emboldened by the accompanying swell and heave of the older Irish who were so moved to sing with them.

More smiles.

But then, after a moment’s lull, a young, winsome Genevieve offered up a lilting Danny Boy.

Though a number had already moved from the tent and entered McCormick’s Pub to begin with a first pint, others upon hearing the strains of that melancholy tune stopped in their tracks.

Oh, Danny boy, the pipes, the pipes are calling
From glen to glen, and down the mountain side.
The summer’s gone, and all the roses falling,
It’s you, it’s you must go and I must bide.

But come ye back when summer’s in the meadow,
Or when the valley’s hushed and white with snow,
It’s I’ll be here in sunshine or in shadow,—
Oh Danny boy, Oh Danny boy, I love you so!

But if you come, when all the flowers are dying,
And I am dead, as dead I well may be,
Ye’ll come and find the place where I am lying,
And kneel and say an ‘Ave’ there for me.

And I will know, tho’ soft ye tread above me
And then my grave will richer, sweeter be.

And you’ll bend down and tell me that you love me
And I will rest in peace until you come to me.

It was just beautiful. Here is what struck me when Genevieve sang Danny Boy.

Though St. Patrick’s Day is a Feast Day celebrated in the deep, dry, sacrificing season of Lent, one can be sure that Danny Boy was sung in innumerable locales. But contrary to most feasting songs, its lyrics are not raucous or joyful, winsome or lighthearted. They are haunting and sad. They ache deeply of separation and loss. They hunger for one last touch, one last warm embrace, one last moment in which to softly say, “I love you.”

Though Danny Boy is purportedly the work of a British lawyer/songwriter from the early 20th century, it spoke so deeply to the gnawing pain of parents seeing their young boys lost to an insensible World War or tearfully sent to travel across uncertain oceans to escape from hardship and unrest at home.

When Danny Boy is sung, it tips a momentary hat to the pain we endure and the wistfulness we encounter in our all-too-fleeting moments with those we love so dear. But even more, it reminds us that the joy of having the Danny Boys in our lives – the pure glory in having loved someone so much that it aches – is worth it. Though Suffering may come, Grace out lives it. Unquestionably, the ache worth it.

On this day, Genevieve’s Danny Boy reminded me.

To be sure, St. Patrick’s Day is a Feast Day.

But it is a Feast Day made a bit more poignant knowing that Lent is all around it.

Tags:
CeciliaSaints
Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read Aleteia.org every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in seven languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...



Top 10
1
LOREN SCHAUERS
Annalisa Teggi
Amputee from the waist down is thankful every day to be alive
2
SAINT FAUSTINA,CELL
Fr. Patrick Briscoe, OP
St. Faustina’s coffee cup and lessons for Divine Mercy Sund...
3
HOLY SEPULCHRE CROSSES
Zelda Caldwell
Mystery of crosses on walls of Church of the Holy Sepulchre may h...
4
PADRE PIO
Philip Kosloski
St. Padre Pio: His life, his miracles and his legacy
5
JESUS
Fr Robert McTeigue, SJ
A simple test to see if you really believe Christ is risen
6
DIVINE MERCY
Aleteia
Here’s how to celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday at home
7
PRINCE PHILIP
Cerith Gardiner
11 Interesting facts about the late Prince Philip
See More
Newsletter
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.