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Video Ref. Number : CMSI-253

Hymn in honor of St. Joseph for musicological analysis

'പോകുവിൻ പോകുവിൻ യൗസേപ്പിൻ്റെ'.

Excerpt from a lecture at Dharmaram College, Bengaluru. 18 July 2014. 7 PM

By Dr. Joseph J. Palackal, CMI


We are delighted to post this particular traditional hymn in honor of St. Joseph that is special for many reasons. The text is in twentieth-century Malayalam. However, the name Joseph is in the original Aramaic form: YAWSEP (" he flourishes"). As late as the twentieth century, the Catholics in Kerala were comfortable combining Syriac words in their prayer vocabulary in Malayalam, the native tongue. The anonymous author ingeniously evokes the images of the Joseph of the Old Testament to highlight the image of St. Joseph, the foster father of Jesus. The reference to St. Theresa of Avila (1515-1582), a zealous devotee of St. Joseph, is an indication that the song was composed sometime after the sixteenth century. It was Constantine Joseph Beschi (1680-1747), an Italian Jesuit priest who popularized the devotion to St. Joseph in South India. His Tamil epic poem THEMBAVANI on the saint's life, became very popular in Tamil Nadu and Kerala. Pokuwin Pokuwin used to be part of the month-long devotion in March every year in Kerala's Catholic homes. This used to be the concluding-song at the end of family prayer in the evening. The entire family joined together to sing in a call-response style. We do not know the melody's source, which sounds similar to the style of folk songs in Kerala. We do not know if there are other melodies to this song. The melody we hear in this video is the one I learned from my mother, who came from Kaduthuruthy in the Kottayam district of Kerala. This belongs to the category of non-liturgical devotional songs that are performed only at home and not in the church.

Joseph J. Palackal, CMI
New York
19 March 2021

Feast day of St. Joseph

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