John Paul II Foundation

“Barge” – the favorite song of John Paul II

The favorite song of John Paul II is a loose translation from Spanish.  The Polish version was written in 1974 or in 1975.  Fr. Szmidt wrote the words for the song “Barge” inspired by a Latin American song with a Spanish text.  The song was brought to Poland by one of the Salesians Fathers.     

“I was writing at night, as during the day I had a lot of classes in our seminary school in Ląda near Warta.  I remember that I got nervous about this text as there were quite a few verses and I did not know Spanish.  I was able to infer some single words whose meaning I derived from Latin. I was upset, as I felt that I wrote not what I was supposed to write – recalled in 2005 Father Szmidt in the conversation with Fr. Wojciech Kułak from the Higher Theological Seminary of the Salesian Fathers in Łódź.

For the first time, Fr. Szmidt heard singing of “Barge” at the Seminary in Łódź, when one of the Fathers performed that song.  “It was him, who as a missionary Father ‘took’ the song with him and spread in Poland, teaching it, especially, young people” – he said.  He admitted that he was very surprised when the “Barge” song was sung in Gniezno in 1979 during the Holy Father’s pilgrimage to Poland, and he was even more astonished when he saw that the Pope is singing it from his memory. In February 1980, Fr. Szmidt was in Rome attending a religious formation course and wanted to have a picture with the Pope.  A few days before his return to Poland, he attended a general audience and was able to find a place near the railing.  When John Paul II was about three or four steps away from him, he told the Holy Father that he was the author of the “Barge” song.  The Pope stopped and said that the original song is in Spanish, but I wrote it in Polish. The Pope, then, kissed my forehead.  – recalled Fr. Szmidt.  The Salesian Father is happy that the Holy Father liked this song so much.  He added that in the 1970s, there was a great interest in religious songs from other countries, as only a few were written at that time in Poland.

 The “Barge” song was the favorite Oasis Movement song of John Paul II.  In August 2002, after the Mass at the Błonia Park in Kraków, when faithful sang the “Barge” song, the Pope addressed again them and said that it was this song which led him “from his Homeland 23 years ago”:

“To conclude, I would like to add that this same song of the “Oasis” accompanied me 24 years ago outside of my country. I heard it all the time. It was the time of the conclave. I have not forgotten this song of the “Oasis” all these years. It was like a hidden breath of our homeland. It was my guide on the variety of paths of the Church. It was this song that often led me spiritually here, to Błonia of Kraków, to the foot of the Kosciuszko Hill.” – said John Paul II. “I thank you, song of the “Oasis”” – he added.

After the death of John Paul II, the Auxiliary Bishop of the Łowicz diocese, Józef Zawitkowski, added another- fifth verse and chorus to the “Barge” song.  – During many celebrations as a gratitude for the saint Pope John Paul II, we will hear the favorite song of the Holy Father – “Barge”.  The Polish text was written by Fr. Stanisław Szmidt, Salesan Father from Łódź.  After the death of the Pope, the next verse was written by Bishop Józef Zawitkowski.

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