From the YouTube Music Video Archives, Devotions Special Edition: Hopelessly Devoted to You by Olivia Newton-John

I think this was originally from Grease, but here we have a fairly typical looking 80s video, with Olivia looking like a slightly hussified Princess Di. If it’s an imprimatur you want, you might sing along by changing “Hopelessly” to “Hopefully”, which also strikes a note of humility, as in, “I like to think I’m devoted … hopefully I’m devoted. Anyway, there’s also a fine version by Kristen Chenoweth from Pushing Daisies … I believe Chenowith has a devotional album out as well. If it’s more Olivia, you want, you might also try I Honestly Love You, which she sings in this video sort of kneeling, and of course you can do the same. And if it’s more Kristen you want, or if your name happens to be “Matthew Lickona”, you’ll want to look at this.

On a slightly more serious note, I’ve spent a lot of time singing along to Dylan’s Slow Train Coming, which figured mightily on my road to the church, as did Van Morrison’s Into The Music. Both are “born-again” albums released in 1979, the latter perhaps the greatest album too many people have never even heard of.

Interestingly enough, my baptism coincided with a turn towards classical music for what I listen to most, so I’ve added to the playlist Handel’s Messiah, Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis, and Poulenc’s Dialogues des Carmèlites,

This last work features a libretto by Georges Bernanos based on the novella, Die Letzte am Schafott (The Last on the Scaffold), by Gertrud von Le Fort. The story is taken from one of the bloodier episodes at the end of the already bloody enough French Revolution, and aside from being an effective inoculation against Jacobinism of all varieties, it may well change your mind about how opera can work on you, and perhaps a few other things besides. It changed mine.

So there you have it: from Olivia to Madame de Croissy, the headband to the wimple, hopelessly devoted to Kierkegaard’s Musical Erotic and perhaps rotating forever on a spit in a hell of aethetic damnation, these are a few devotions that remind me that I ought to be a lot more devoted.


  1. Anonymous says

    Thanks for these. I have quite a busy day ahead of me, so may not listen till tomorrow.

    I went through a period of trying to educate myself in classical music in my thirties. I don't listen to music much, and now, when I do, I use it to relax from what I'm doing, when I'm in a good mood, with pop music. Perhaps classical music feels too much like more hard work. But other things, like, how rarified do I want to be. And, with opera, not wishing to emote in that way.

    I once met an ex junkie who had given up classical music when he gave up drugs and now listened only to pop music. On the other hand, I was thinking a few nights ago of a former friend who used to go to the opera very frequently, sometimes several nights a week, and thinking, how could he.

    Sorry to write such a long comment.

  2. Anonymous says

    What I took to be unusually nice is perhaps an attempt to worsen my tinnitus.

  3. Quin,

    Thanks for this. It seems to lend further support to Plato's doctrine on the power of music – which of all the arts works most directly on the soul (skips the head-fries and squirts straight into the soul-burger).

    Your account of music and the faith reminded me of my first serious encounter with Polyphony – Palestrina and Thomas Tallis in particular. I look back at it as a sort of man-made spiritual consolation – St. Louis de Montfort speaks of consolations as extra dividends of blessedness and not to be confused with blessedness itself. It was that sort of thing – my Freshman year in California. Whenever I think back on the near-ecstasy of the moment I heard through Tallis' "Spem in Alia" or Palestrina's "Missa Papae Marcelli" or Allegri's "Miserere," it seems very much more like a grace given than art consumed….


  4. Jonathan Webb says

    Tremendous contrast. Thanks.

    I never understood John's musical appeal, but the latter video reminds me of innocent days of bad popular music, abundant jobs and S&P growth.

    Simultaneously turns one toward classical music and turns one's stomach.

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