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January 8

A Maiden’s Prayer as Popularized by Bob Wills Deserves an Applause

Tekla B?darzewska-Baranowska penned “A Maiden’s Prayer”. Originally published in 1856, in the composer’s native city of Warsaw, the piece became a middlebrow favorite throughout Europe and America. After then, it was released as a supplement to the Revue et gazette musicale de Paris in 1859. It is a piano piece of medium difficulty for intermediate pianists. Some like it for its charming and romantic melody; others describe it as “sentimental salon tosh”. Arthur Loesser, pianist and academic, described it as “a dowdy product of ineptitude”.

When Bob Wills heard “A Maiden’s Prayer” being played on a fiddle, he was working as a barber in Roy, New Mexico. The American musician arranged the piece in the Western swing style thereafter. Wills first recorded it as an instrumental in 1935. Luckily, it rapidly became one of his signature tunes. Later, it became a set recorded by many country artists. To name is Buck Owens where he included it on his album I’ve Got a Tiger By the Tail—his number one album. The tune is still a standard in the collection of Western swing bands.

Wills’ Work on “A Maiden’s Prayer”

In 1941, Wills wrote the lyrics for “A Maiden’s Prayer” and recorded it again having Tommy Duncan as vocals. His lyrics reflect the title, and the song opens with:

Twilight falls, evening shadows find,

There ‘neath the stars, a maiden so fair divine.

The moon on high seemed to see her there.

In her eyes is a light, shining ever so bright,

She whispered a silent prayer.

Few country singers fairly covered “A Maiden’s Prayer” with vocals. Some of these are Ray Price on his tribute album San Antonio Rose and Willie Nelson on his album Red Headed Stranger. Both singers used the lyrics written by Wills with minor variations. Apart from the two, the Everly Brothers made their own cover of the song in 1973.

For the third time, Wills recorded the track on his 1963 album Bob Wills Sings and Plays. In 1970 when he became an inductee into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, “A Maiden’s Prayer” was one of the works mentioned.


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