Favorite Hymn of John Paul II

The Summer 2008 issue of The Hymn, citing the Polish American Journal, reports that John Paul II loved the hymn (in Polish translation) “Barka,” which you and I know as something else. OK, everyone, no wisecracks about infallibility and good taste.Lord-when-you-came_Cropped


  1. I have two stories about this song. 1. The sister of our former music director requested it for the 25th anniversary of her religious profession. She was taken by the fact that in the song Jesus is calling her. I think she also worked with Hispanics. 2. I play in a “contemporary” music ensemble and I hesitate every time we play and sing it. It tends to become a parody of Mariachi. I think there is a lot to be said for learning from and borrowing “features” of a foreign ethnic style. But that’s not the same thing as parody which feels inauthentic and unassimilated.

  2. OK…you can say that the song “isn’t Mariachi”, but when played, particularly if there are any brass instruments, it comes out that way. What exactly is the “natural style” for the piece? I have to admit that it can way too easily sound like a charicature of ethnic style rather than an integration of it. This I also find true of many “Gospel Style” works in the repertoire which, to me, seem to incorporate every cliche and stereotype in an effort to seem “authentic”. When compared with genuine examples of that style, such as the excellent compositions of Leon Roberts or Andre Crouch, they come across more like Tin Pan Alley songs than anything that should be used in worship. Not that either of those two composers are necessarily more appropriate for Catrholic liturgy, but at least they are actual Gospel Music.

  3. AMDG 22 Oct 2016

    The song definitely has a Mexican tone but is not Mariachi music. Not all songs sung in Mexico are Mariachi, a specific style. The song is more like a serenade or lullaby.

  4. Nov 2019- I agree – definitely a serenade or lullaby feel. A fisherman’s lullaby. Actually, a fisher-of-men’s lullaby! That’s how it feels when we sing it in English in my Ottawa, Canada parish. We’ve also sung it with lyrics by Fr. Joseph Kane in “Song to Our Lady of Guadalupe”, sung at monthly prolife Masses in the Diocese. I’ve heard it with guitar, piano, but not trumpet. (Other than online)

    Here’s a story. I was asked to play solo piano at a reception following an All Souls Mass a few days ago. It was also our Polish pastor’s birthday, & I looked for a Polish folksong to add to my repertoire. (My secret way to bless him. But God had plans to bless me as well, & others!) I was delighted to discover this hymn, adopted from the late 1970s or 1980s, and embraced by St. Pope John Paul II & his beloved people. I loved the stories, & bonus, I already knew it! After I played it (instrumental) at the reception, 3 people approached me right away, asking what song it was, how pretty it was, how much they loved it. One woman said with great joy that the hymn reminded her of her homeland, where it is loved & sung by everyone. Her homeland? Croatia. I played it again, just for her. And I was amazed & deeply moved to witness the power of God through the gift of music. One simple, gentle hymn, written by a Spanish composer, travels the world, & touches the hearts of so many, opening them to the transformative love of the Holy Spirit. If I didn’t love the hymn before, I DO NOW!

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