Search Engine Fun with the Seven Joys of Mary

Maddy Prior and June Tabor’s album Silly Sisters included this really nifty Marian hymn. Great Big Sea has also performed it. This version comes from Cornwall, but it’s also known in Appalachia. I think it would be a great song for kids, since the tune is easy and it’s a counting song.

You can download a MIDI of a really nice choral arrangement of the Cornish tune by Clifford Boyd. He’s even provided sheet music!

The first good joy that Mary had,
It was the joy of one;
To see the blessed Jesus Christ,
When He was first her Son.
When He was first her Son, good man,
And blessed may He be,
The Father, Son, and Holy Ghost
To all eternity.

The next good joy that Mary had,
It was the joy of two;
To see her own Son Jesus Christ
To make the lame to go. (In some versions, ‘When He was sent to school’)
To make the lame to go, good man,
And blessed may He be,
The Father, Son, and Holy Ghost
To all eternity.

The next good joy that Mary had,
It was the joy of three;
To see her own Son Jesus Christ
To make the blind to see.
To make the blind to see, good man,
And blessed may He be,
The Father, Son, and Holy Ghost
To all eternity.

The next good joy that Mary had,
It was the joy of four;
To see her own Son Jesus Christ
To read the Bible o’er.
To read the Bible o’er, good man,
And blessed may He be,
The Father, Son, and Holy Ghost
To all eternity.

The next good joy that Mary had,
It was the joy of five;
To see her own Son Jesus Christ,
To bring the dead alive.
To bring the dead alive, good man,
And blessed may He be,
The Father, Son, and Holy Ghost
To all eternity.

The next good joy that Mary had,
It was the joy of six;
To see her own Son Jesus Christ
Upon the crucifix.
Upon the crucifix, good man,
And blessed may He be,
The Father, Son, and Holy Ghost
To all eternity.

The next good joy that Mary had,
It was the joy of seven;
To see her own Son Jesus Christ
To wear the crown of Heaven.
To wear the crown of Heaven, good man,
And blessed may He be,
The Father, Son, and Holy Ghost
To all eternity.

There’s also an Irish folk hymn from Donegal, “Seacht Suailci na Maighdine Muire” (the Seven Joys of the Virgin Mary). From a brief scan of the lyrics in Irish, the first part of every verse is something like: “The Xth joy of the Blessed Virgin/It was a great joy/It was the joy of her noble only son”. So Mary’s taking joy in her Son’s joy. Anyway, Jesus’ joys in question seem to be: being her only son, learning to read a book, something about giving flowers order, being the Savior, something about his palm on the dead (raising them, I guess), something about wine, and that he went up to heaven. (Bear in mind that my Irish is bad and my dictionary small. I’m sure the song actually makes better sense than I can make of it.) Anyway, I haven’t actually heard it, but Aoife Ni Fhearraigh‘s cover of it was apparently included on all sorts of albums, from the Rough Guide to Irish Folk to Narada’s Celtic Spirit. This suggests you should keep an eye out for it.

Finally, this program notes page (and boy, do I wish I’d seen this concert!) on Harps, Songs and Stories of Medieval Europe includes a Seven Joys song from Montserrat‘s medieval book of pilgrim songs, the Llibre Vermell. I didn’t find the lyrics to “Los Sets Goyts” anywhere online, but again, it’s something to look for.

Meanwhile, Googling revealed that Franciscans pray the Franciscan Crown, a meditation on the Seven Joys of Mary. There’s also a much shorter prayer the Carmelites use that’s on the same topic.

Take a look at this beautiful Altarpiece of the Seven Joys of Mary. Medieval art at its loveliest. (I like the leaves strewn on the floor, and the man wearing pattens. I also have a mad Scadian desire for that sweeeet red, green and white outfit the one lady on the left of the altar is wearing.) Also check out Hans Memling’s Seven Joys of Mary. As in a comic book that doesn’t use the standard box format, all the action takes place on the same ‘page’.

Finally, I would’ve thought the list of Seven Joys was newer than the Seven Sorrows, since you hear more about the latter. This page says bzzt, wrong!. Still, the early 13th century is not exactly new. Ixeh.net has both sets of prayers in interactive versions, as well as a lot of other good stuff.

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