WDTPRS is (mostly) a Kumbaya Free Zone

From the great Laudator:

Perhaps the song Kumbaya is not really an African-American spiritual dating from the 1930s, but rather a vestige of an ancient Greek skolion, a drinking song. Could kumbaya be a corruption of the plural of Greek ??????? (kumbíon = small cup)? By this interpretation, “my Lord” in the song is an address to the symposiarch, the master of the revels. “Kumbaya, my Lord, kumbaya” is therefore a call for the symposiarch to supply more cups of wine. In Latin, “Pocula, magister bibendi, pocula!”

I’ll never hear the song in the same way again.


The Wyoming Carmelites will never sing Kumbaya.

Therefore, refresh your supply of Mystic Monk Coffee today!

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Charlotte Allen says:

    Aren’t the Benedictine Sisters of Erie Sister Joan Chittister’s sisters? No more habits these days!

  2. Pedantic Classicist says:

    Way in over my head here, but I’ve always thought (since my smattering of Hebrew way back when) that it was Hebrew, with the Kum an imperative of a motion verb (forget which one! but it’s in Jonah, when the Lord first addresses the prophet: “get up, go to Nineveh…” ) and the “ya” the same abbreviation for the Lord’s name that you find in hallelu-Ya. I’m unsure about the “ba”, though it could be from the common preposition meaning… “in”… I think? Say, where’s a pedantic Hebraist when you need one? ;) Help me, Obi wan Old Testament Scholar, you’re my only hope!!

    Though I have to say that Laudator’s suggestion is fun times INDEED. Then the Lord becomes some kind of divine bartender of grace. Now THERE’s a metaphor you probably never thought you’d see at this blog! (Almost as good as Peter Kreeft’s “Priests as sewers” bit)

  3. worm says:

    I take it back. Perhaps nuns should always be dressed in habits.

  4. That is so wrong on so many levels…

  5. worm says:

    oops, for got the “not”
    I take it back. Perhaps nuns should NOT always be dressed in habits.

  6. tealady24 says:

    And thank the good Lord for the Wyoming Carmelite monks!
    Kumbaya was good for singing aroung the Girl Scout campfire.
    Nuns and priests should always look like nuns and priests. After all, isn’t that what you are???

  7. Pachomius says:

    Adding to Pedantic Classicist’s observations, I’d just say that “qw m ba ia” in ancient Egyptian would mean “the loaf/cake is in the soul of the tomb”. Which might be an interesting comment on the Eucharist, or complete gibberish. WDTPRS, incidentally, looks very like the (transliterated) ancient Egyptian for “commanding that she go out”.

  8. rakesvines says:

    I’ll file that in my collection together with “In Heaven There Is No Beer.” But this just illustrates how important the classics are – even today. Who would have known? I had thought it was a Democrat song from Kenya. And I’ve despised and loathed it as such. Now I can sing it again.

  9. LouiseA says:

    Their lips aren’t syncing at all with the words of Kumbaya, so perhaps someone dubbed Kumbaya over what they were actually singing.

  10. ppb says:

    I have instructed our choir that, if I ever show up with copies of “Kumbaya,” they are to take that as a sign that I am no longer of sound mind, remove me from the choir loft by whatever means necessary, and inform my next of kin.

  11. Always always change the words.

    Boyardee, my Chef, Boyardee,
    Boyardee, my Chef, Boyardee;
    Boyardee, my Chef, Boyardee,
    O Chef Boyardee.

    Beefaroni: Chef Boyardee,
    Beefaroni: Chef Boyardee;
    Beefaroni: Chef Boyardee,
    O Chef Boyardee.

    Ravioli: Chef Boyardee,
    Ravioli: Chef Boyardee;
    Ravioli: Chef Boyardee,
    O Chef Boyardee.

    Alphaghetti: Chef Boyardee,
    Alphaghetti: Chef Boyardee;
    Alphaghetti: Chef Boyardee,
    O Chef Boyardee.

    Boyardee, my Chef, Boyardee,
    Boyardee, my Chef, Boyardee;
    Boyardee, my Chef, Boyardee,
    O Chef Boyardee.

  12. Mundabor says:

    I thought it was a corruption of a dialectal expression of the words “I’ll come by you”, “kum by ya”; as in, say, “hi ya”.

    As to the nuns, I ‘ve heard worse and they were at least correctly dressed, but one can clearly see that they were on a slippery slope already (when was the recording? Late Sixties or early Seventies perhaps?)

    I would wish them an apostolic visitation, if this wasn’t uncharitable.

    They probably got it already anyway.


  13. Marc says:

    The Benedictine Sisters singing “Kumbaya” again. Did I miss something or are we back in Lent already?

  14. cuaguy says:

    Do I think they should be singing this? Of course not. But at least it sounds good, compared to what we usually hear…

  15. BLB Oregon says:

    Sure, if you’re on The Ed Sullivan Show, go ahead and sing “Kumbaya”!! Sing “Que Sera Sera”! Sing “If I Had a Hammer”! Just don’t sing them in church. Oh, and if you’re a religious sister, wear the habit when you’re not in church, too, even when you’re singing “If I Had a Hammer” on the Ed Sullivan Show.

    Why not?

  16. Fr. W says:

    As Khan declared in ‘The Wrath of Khan,’ as the USS Enterprise was naively about to be pulverized: ‘Yeeeeees, we are just one, big, happy family, aren’t we?’

    Add these naive sisters to the Bing Crosby movies, where the new! enlightened! priest! – plays golf and sheds the cassock.

  17. KAS says:

    I long for good music at Mass. I also long for a good English translation of the NO and a really proper presentation of the EF.

    Come Advent, perhaps the new English translation of the NO will be put into practice as required.

    Meanwhile, I subscribe to the Mystic Monk coffee and get three bags a month automatically sent to me–so at least I know my coffee for the morning will be good–off to make a new pot!

  18. John Nolan says:

    ‘Kumbaya’ along with ‘Michael Row the Boat Ashore’ is so 1960s it brings tears of nostalgia to my eyes. To hear it sung in church after all these years would be rather like hearig ‘Bring Flowers of the Rarest’ (gulp).

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