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Anthem for the archbishops: what they heard when they received the pallium

Deacon Greg Kandra - published on 06/29/17

The new archbishops received the pallium today; a video report above explains the importance of this gesture.

But what caught my eye was this interesting detail from CNS’s report:

In what has become the standard practice, the pope did not place the pallium on new archbishops during the liturgy. Rather, after the Mass, the pope handed each archbishop a pallium folded up in a small, simple wooden box tied with a brown ribbon as a soloist sang “You Got to Walk that Lonesome Valley,” a traditional American gospel song.

I was curious to learn more and discovered this lovely rendition of the song on YouTube:

The lyrics:

Jesus walked this lonesome valley. He had to walk it by Himself; O, nobody else could walk it for Him, He had to walk it by Himself. We must walk this lonesome valley, We have to walk it by ourselves; O, nobody else can walk it for us, We have to walk it by ourselves. You must go and stand your trial, You have to stand it by yourself, O, nobody else can stand it for you, You have to stand it by yourself.

It turns out there are a number of versions—including a folk adaptation by Woody Guthrie:

You gotta walk that lonesome valley, You gotta walk it by yourself, Nobody here can walk it for you, You gotta walk it by yourself. Some people say that John was a Baptist, Some folks say he was a Jew, But your holy scripture tells you That he was a preacher too. Daniel was a Bible hero, Was a prophet brave and true, In a den of hungry lions Proved what faith can do for you. There’s a road that leads to glory Through a valley far away, Nobody else can walk it for you, They can only point the way. Mamma and daddy loves you dearly, Sister does and brother, too, They may beg you to go with them, But they cannot go for you. I’m gonna walk that lonesome valley, I’m gonna walk it by myself, Don’t want to nobody to walk it for me, I’m gonna walk it by myself.

You can find other versions on YouTube that eliminate the Biblical references.

It’s unclear which version was sung today at the Vatican—but the message to the new archbishops seems perfectly clear.

Photo: Paul Haring/CNS 

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