Thursday, May 29, 2014

Altar Boy Blues

For some reason I felt inspired last Saturday and wrote the lyrics of a song, then recorded the song today. As is my habit, I picked the first melody that occurred to me and since it's a blues song, it's probably the first melody that would occur to anyone. The lyrics were easy to write since I was writing about something I used to know something about: being an altar boy and having to get up at 6 a.m. to serve 6:30 mass. I never had any problems with the priests back in the 50s -- the nuns were the ones I had to watch out for -- but the current zeitgeist dictates that I suggest a bit of debauchery in the priest/altar boy relationship, so I did.

To provide a bit of 1950ish Catholic ambience I decided to add, as a roving chorus, a lone voice intoning the Latin responses that altar boys of the pre-1960s era had to say in response to the priest's ejaculations. After almost 60 years I still remember most of them by heart, sad to say. 

Okay, because of popular demand, here are two more versions of the song.


Well you wake up inna mornin
Gotta serve that early mass
If you don’t make it by 5:30,
Father Damien will have yo ass,
You got the altar boys blues
Ain’t no joy for you today
Till dat priest done said his piece
You his prisoner and his slave.

Well you put on a grimy cassock
And a surplice with big sleeves
Then you light up all the candles
And get down upon your knees,
You got the altar boys blues
Ain’t no joy for you today
Till dat priest done had his fill
You his prisoner and his slave.

Well you answerin all his questions
In some crazy ancient tongue
When all you wanna say is
“Lemme outta here while I’m young,”
You got the altar boys blues
Ain’t no joy for you today
Till dat priest has done his deed
You his prisoner and his slave.

The time rolls by so slow
And you keep watchin yo behind,
The priest’s got Latin on his lips
But Greek is on his mind.
You got the altar boys blues
Ain’t no joy for you today
Till that priest done seen his god
You his prisoner and his slave.

Well de mass is finally over
You stop feeling like a fool
You just got one more year of this
Den you can go to public school
You got the altar boys blues
Ain’t no joy for you today
Till that priest done say Amen
You his partner and his slave.
Let em get you when you young
You’ll be servin to your grave
If you let em have their way with you
You gonna serve your life away.

The LATIN LOW MASS — Altar Boy’s Responses

Ad Deum qui laetificat, juventutem meam.
Quia tu es, Deus, fortitude mea: quare me repulisti, et quare tristis incedo, dum affligit me inimicus?
Et introibo ad altare Dei: Ad Deam qui laetificat juventutem meam.
Spera in Deos quoniam adhuc confetibor illi: salutare vultus mei, et Deus meus.
Sicut erat in principio, et nunc, et semper: et in saecula saeculorum. Amen.
Ad Deum qui laetificat, juventutem meam.
Qui fecit caelum et terram.
Misereatur tui omnipotens Deus, et dimissis peccatis tuis, perducat te ad vitam aeternam. Amen.
Confiteor Deo omnipotenti, beate Mariae semper Virgini, beato Michaeli Archangelo, beato Joanni Baptistae, sanctis Apostolis Petro et Paulo, omnibus Sanctis, et tibi, Pater: quia peccavi nimis cogitatione, verbo, et opera mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa. Ideo precor beatam Mariam semper Virginem, beatum Michaelem Archangelum, beatum Joannem Baptistam, sanctos Apostolos Petrum et Paulum, omnes Sanctos et te, Pater, orare pro me ad Dominum Deum nostrum.
Amen. Amen.
Et plebs tua laetabitur in te.
Et salutare tuum da nobis.
Et clamor meus ad te veniat.
Et cum spiritu tuo.
Kyrie, eleison. Christe, eleison. Christe, eleison. Kyrie, eleison.
Suscipiat Dominus sacrificium de manibus tuis ad laudem et gloriam nominis sui, ad utilitatem quoque nostrum, totsiusque Ecclesiae suae sanctae.
Habemus ad Dominum.
Dignum et justum est.
Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus, Dominus, Deus Sabbaoth. Pleni sunt caeli et terra Gloria tua. Hosanna in excelsis. Benedictus qui venit in nomine Domine. Hosanna in excelsis.

1 comment:

  1. The saddest line of this song is the one where the poor guy's situation is so bad he's actually looking forward to going to public school. But all in all, it's probably good for a person to have a "just got out of jail" experience at age 15 as we did. We were just at the age where the priests and nuns could really do some damage to our psyches. Sadly, some people like Stephen Colbert and Chris Matthews were forced to kowtow to the clergy for their high school years too.