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Song by Notre Dame Folk Choir featured in ‘Lady Bird’

| Thursday, January 25, 2018

Notre Dame shares a connection with the five-time Oscar nominated film “Lady Bird,” as it features a song by the Notre Dame Folk Choir at the end of the movie.

“Lady Bird” — which depicts the coming-of-age story of a girl as she attends a Catholic high school, fills out college applications, experiences her first love and navigates a tumultuous relationship with her mother — utilizes the song by the Folk Choir during a crucial point in the main character’s journey, choir director Karen Schneider-Kirner said.

“The song is featured at the very end of the movie, when the lead character, played by actress Saoirse Ronan, has an awakening moment and realizes the gift of her family and mother in particular,” Schneider-Kirner said in an email.

The song, Schneider-Kirner said, is “Rosa mystica,” a song from the Folk Choir’s 1996 album, “Prophets of Joy.” She said Trappist monk Fr. Chrysogynus Waddell composed the song as a hymn to Mary “with a text dating back to the 16th century.”

Senior and choir president William Maher said part of the reason the scene in which the song plays is poignant is because the lyrics to “Rosa mystica” parallel the stage Ronan’s character has reached in her life.

“The song, the lyrics themselves talk about changing and the transformation that happens when you accept Christ into your life,” Maher said. “Everything about it was just perfect.”

Maher said “Rosa mystica” had a particularly significant meaning to the Folk Choir even before it appeared in “Lady Bird.”

“It is definitely a song that we love to sing; it is something that we find really special as well,” he said. “When we are all together at our tours or social gatherings, we sing this song, and it was really special to see and hear that in the context of the movie.”

Because the song holds such deep meaning for the choir, Schneider-Kirner said it was important for her and the rest of the choir to hear the song featured at what they believe is a pivotal moment in the film.

“A large group of us went to see the film at [the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center] this past Saturday night,” she said, “It was a tear-jerker moment when I heard the song during the movie, as I’ve often directed that piece through the years during my [20-plus] years of association with this choir, and I knew the composer, who is now deceased.”

Maher said it is unclear exactly how the production team of “Lady Bird” chose “Rosa mystica” to be in the movie, but he believes the piece must have touched them the way it touches the members of the Folk Choir.

“We were just lucky in that we had this piece that we have been singing for decades now that they found to be appropriate,” Maher said.

Schneider-Kirner said she is nearly certain there is some kind of Notre Dame connection within the production team of the movie. Either way, however, Schneider-Kirner said she is proud the Folk Choir could contribute to the film in this way.

“The most rewarding part of this experience is being able to share this piece that we have long known and loved, appropriately dedicated to Our Lady, with a worldwide audience,” she said. “This was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for our choir.”

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About Claire Rafford

Claire Rafford is an English major and a Journalism, Ethics and Democracy minor from the class of 2021. She is originally from Tempe, Arizona. Her skills include excessive Harry Potter trivia knowledge. That is it.

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