Decorations on the Death of a Pope, 1903

St Patrick's, NYC (Picture courtesy Library of Congress). http://theboweryboys.blogspot.com/2012/02/st-patricks-cathedral-stately-grace-in.html

St Patrick’s, NYC (Picture courtesy Library of Congress). http://theboweryboys.blogspot.com/2012/02/st-patricks-cathedral-stately-grace-in.html

Pope Leo XIII, 1898, Reproduction Number: LC-USZ62-122745 (b&w film copy neg.) Repository: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA

Pope Leo XIII, 1898, Reproduction Number: LC-USZ62-122745 (b&w film copy neg.)
Repository: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA

In July 1903 Pope Leo XIII died in Rome. The Catholic Cathedrals and Churches in New York City marked the occasion with special decorations and services. While Edith Vail Ross and Miss Schirmer were not of the Catholic faith they did make a point to visit St. Patrick’s Cathedral on 5th Avenue to see the “decorations for the Pope and in the evening walked to the other big Catholic Church (5th) and they gorgeous and look mighty impressive with the purple and black.”

I do not know what music was playing the day of their visit and Edith made no note of it, however as an interesting aside – So closely associated with a funeral song nowadays is Franz Schubert’s work Ave Maria. Wikipedia states:”Ellens dritter Gesang” (Ellens Gesang III, D. 839, Op. 52, No. 6, 1825), in English: “Ellen’s Third Song”, was composed by Franz Schubert in 1825 as part of his Opus 52, a setting of seven songs from Walter Scott’s popular epic poem The Lady of the Lake, loosely translated into German. It has become one of Schubert’s most popular works, recorded by a wide variety and large number of singers, under the title of Ave Maria, in arrangements with various lyrics which commonly differ from the original context of the poem. It was arranged in three versions for piano by Franz Liszt. The piece was composed as a setting of a song from Walter Scott’s popular epic poem The Lady of the Lake,[1] in a German translation by Adam Storck (de) (1780–1822),[2] and thus forms part of Schubert’s Liederzyklus vom Fräulein vom See (Song Cycle on The Lady of the Lake). In Scott’s poem the character Ellen Douglas, the Lady of the Lake (Loch Katrine in the Scottish Highlands), has gone with her exiled father to stay in the Goblin’s cave as he has declined to join their previous host, Roderick Dhu, in rebellion against King James. Roderick Dhu, the chieftain of Clan Alpine, sets off up the mountain with his warriors, but lingers and hears the distant sound of the harpist Allan-bane, accompanying Ellen who sings a prayer addressed to the Virgin Mary, calling upon her for help. Roderick Dhu pauses, then goes on to battle.[3] Schubert’s arrangement is said to have first been performed at the castle of Countess Sophie Weissenwolff in the little Austrian town of Steyregg and dedicated to her, which led to her becoming known as “the lady of the lake” herself.[4] The opening words and refrain of Ellen’s song, namely “Ave Maria” (Latin for “Hail Mary”), may have led to the idea of adapting Schubert’s melody as a setting for the full text of the traditional Roman Catholic prayer Ave Maria. The Latin version of the Ave Maria is now so frequently used with Schubert’s melody that it has led to the misconception that he originally wrote the melody as a setting for the Ave Maria.” {END WIKI}

Hear the beautiful Maria Callas sing

The popular Lady of the Lake by Walter Scott was also a favorite of Edith’s maternal grandfather, Barden Beals of Wells & Poultney, Vermont. Click here to read of my discovery of his forgotten copy of the poem.

About Guenevere Crum

Guenevere Crum is an artist and a great granddaughter of Edith and Paul Eisler. She has been actively sleuthing her Eisler - Vail Ross heritage since 1999.
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