“I Don’t Have to Belong to the Catholic Church to Be in Love with Mary”

I love composers who love Mary. So I suppose my long-standing affection for the music of Morten Lauridsen should come as no surprise.

Mr. Lauridsen, who has been described by musicologist Nick Strimple as "the only American composer in history who can be called a mystic" and who often spends his summers composing in seclusion on Waldron Island in Washington, has made no secret about his attachment to the Blessed Mother. He has written at length about the importance of Mary in his most famous work, O Magnum Mysterium. And then there's the testimony of my favorite Lauridsen anecdote, recounted a few years back by music critic Robert Reilly (and from whence comes this post title):

Also on this CD is an exquisitely beautiful and moving Ave Maria. I have seldom encountered anything so suffused with love for Mary. When I asked Lauridsen, a Protestant, about this, he responded, “I don’t have to belong to the Catholic Church to be in love with Mary.”

The piece in question, performed by the incomparable Los Angeles Master Chorale.

Another beautiful Marian work of Lauridsen's is his Ave Dulcissima Maria, which brings a bit of chant DNA into the equation. And while Lux Aeterna remains the Lauridsen work that resonates most with me, few things have endeared him to me as deeply as his obvious love for the Blessed Mother.

Attribution(s): "Morten Lauridsen on Waldron" by photographer Mstillwater, and licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons; "Dolorosa" by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.