‘Tisuć’ puta zdravo budi!’ – a concert of Croatian pilgrimage and Marian hymns crkva sv. Katarine, Katarinin trg, Zagre, Sunday, 21. 7. 2019. at 19,30 sati

The International Folklore Festival continues to present the rich tradition of Croatian church folk singing with a themed concert of Croatian pilgrimage and Marian hymns. Croatian church singing in the homeland and the immediate diaspora communities is characterized by a specific symbiosis of sacral and folk (secular, traditional) music, representing a key factor for the continuity and survival of both traditional and church singing. The Catholic Church and church folk music represent some of the strongest identity symbols that have kept the traditional culture alive among emigrant Croatian communities. Thus pilgrimages, especially to Marian shrines, became a common characteristic of Croats, both in the country and the diaspora.

Marian devotions are very prominent among Croatian Catholics (Advocate Croatiae), who sing Marian hymns throughout the church year. Three whole months are dedicated to Mary (May, August, October) with a number of Marian chants sung during Lent and Advent. The veneration of Mary has also inspired many male and female singers, and therefore numerous cycles of Marian hymns have been written throughout history.

Many of them, although original compositions, are designated as “folk” songs because they have been accepted by the people and adapted to local musical idioms. Musical tastes, local styles, and genres characteristic for specific areas have gradually modified the melody lines, accompanying voices, and lyrics of the originals to the point of unrecognizability in some cases. Marian hymns are more common in northern Croatian churches, which are characterized by a great number of paraliturgical chants. This is a primarily female tradition, which is apparent in the concept of this concert, although songs led by men are not uncommon.

It is of no coincidence that this topic was chosen for our themed concert. During the 36th MSF (in 2002) there was a concert of Croatian pilgrimage and Marian hymns in the Church of St. Catherine in which 10 vocal groups took part. In the fall of 2002, and thanks to don Zvonko Martić, the same concert was held in the Sarajevo Cathedral, and was attended by cardinal Vinko Puljić. The idea of developing a program of Marian songs came from Vidoslav Bagur, the Dalmatian Folklore Festival organizer in Metković (Na Neretvu misečina pala), where Marian hymn concerts have been held regularly since 2000. In 2005, the festival in Metković released a double CD called Ružice majska, diko nebeska, featuring a series of concerts in the church of St. Elijah, and promoting the results of many years of research conducted by a group of researchers led by Vidoslav Bagur. The concerts in Metković, Zagreb, and Sarajevo were organized with the basic idea to display the variety and the abundance of the specific folk church music repertoire of local communities in the country and the diaspora. Most of the groups that have performed in these concerts are folk singing groups working under their local parish or a folklore group, through which they pass on their vocal folk traditions.

The singers’ local idiom is generally related to the traditional vocal expression of the area the group comes from. This is particularly recognizable among the groups of the Dinaric area (in this concert this includes: female singers from the Cetina region and female singers from Bosnian Posavina). We are especially interested in the local aspect, which will be presented through various chants that have survived to this day in the musical tradition of some villages and communities.

Local versions of Marian hymns are characterized by their dispersion among members of a local community. These hymns are often related to traditional singing methods of the region the pilgrims originate from. What categories can these examples be divided into? Variants of Marian hymns within local communities differ in melodies and lyrics. There are some hymns in which the lyrics have been taken from a popular Marian song and set to a local melody. There are also the opposite situations, where local lyrics have been attached to a well-known melody. The third variant, however, is the most common, in which local lyrics are accompanied by traditional (secular) singing. All of the above variants are an expression of pilgrims’ devotions while visiting Marian shrines, composing verses and songs to honor the Mother of God.


Joško Ćaleta, PhD

Institut za etnologiju i folkloristiku, Zagreb



KUD „Kupljenovo“, Kupljenovo
KUD „Nova zora“, ženska pjevačka skupina, Donja Lomnica
KUD „Ogranak Seljačke sloge“ Posavski Bregi, ženska pjevačka skupina
Udruga za očuvanje baštine Cetinskog kraja, Sinj
Ženska pjevačka skupina Župne crkve sv. Lovre, Baranjsko Petrovo Selo
Ženska pjevačka skupina Župe sv. Marka evanđelista,
Plehan (Bosanska Posavina), Dugo Selo