Back in the 50’s, people probably had little ‘difficulty’ with Catholicism in public. Over the course of the decades, perception of the Catholic Church plummeted from indifferent tolerance to passive-aggressive persecution. People used to think of the Church as a megalithic structure with high potentials for reticence; now they are convinced beyond doubt that the Church is a terrorist organisation opposed to scientific thought (which is one way of calling modern licentiousness).
Modern culture, what many of us understand as characterised by a preference for the premature abbreviation of life, provides less and less opportunity for the Catholic to live his faith, practice his religion, and exercise his conscience without running the risk of shedding his own blood. For us who are dedicated to cultivating the sacred music of the Church, life is no different. Pop culture and its accompanying music offer fewer and fewer options for the Catholic soul, encouraging hostility to and abandonment of Christian virtues in its enthralling tones and addicting beats.
But this was not always so, as we all know. Some 60-odd years ago, one pop song with a Catholic theme made a place the billboards.
This rendition Our Lady of Fatima by Kitty Kallen and Richard Hayes charted at #10 in Billboard in September 1950.
Below is a snippet of the original review and ratings written by Glady Gollahon, which appeared in August 1950:
This would later become a popular religious hymn in the Philippines. The way old folks sing this in its various vernacular translations somehow disconnects it from its pop roots (perhaps, a hermeneutic of rupture?), and vests it in their stirring and enraptured tremolo-rich rendition with a venerable mantle of tradition. (Yes, there are those who are opposed to using this in the Traditional Latin Mass, probably because of its pop pedigree, but we digress.) Unfortunately, we have no recording of such old folk in their fervent singing, but good thing the young are quickly picking it up!
What strange times the 50’s were!