"A Maiden's Prayer" (original Polish title: Modlitwa dziewicy Op. 4, French: La prière d'une vierge) is a composition of Polish composer Tekla Bądarzewska-Baranowska (1834–1861), which was published in 1856 in Warsaw, and then as a supplement to the Revue et gazette musicale de Paris in 1859. The piece is a medium difficulty short piano piece for intermediate pianists. Some have liked it for its charming and romantic melody; others have described it as "sentimental salon tosh." The pianist and academic Arthur Loesser described it as "this dowdy product of ineptitude."
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In country music
The American musician Bob Wills heard "Maiden's Prayer" played on a fiddle while he was a barber in Roy, New Mexico, and arranged the piece in the Western swing style. Wills first recorded it as an instrumental in 1935 (Vocalion 03924, released in 1938), and it quickly became one of his signature tunes. Later, it became a standard recorded by many country artists, including Buck Owens on his number-one 1965 album I've Got a Tiger By the Tail. The tune is still a standard in the repertoire of Western swing bands.
- 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.
Relatively few country singers have covered "Maiden's Prayer" with vocals, but they include Ray Price on his tribute album San Antonio Rose (1962) and Willie Nelson on his album Red Headed Stranger (on the 2000 CD reissue but not the 1975 LP). Both singers used the lyrics written by Wills with minor variations, e.g. the maiden is an Indian in Price's version.
Wills recorded the song a third time on the 1963 album Bob Wills Sings and Plays. When he was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1970, "Maiden's Prayer" was one of the works cited.
In popular media
Probably the most memorable use of "Maiden's Prayer" is in the 1930 opera Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny by Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht. The song appears midway through act I; it is played on an out-of-tune piano at a honky-tonk frequented by prostitutes and their clients. Jakob Schmidt, one of the denizens of Mahagonny, refers to the song as "ewige Kunst" ("eternal art").
"Maiden's Prayer" appears as an insert piano song in the anime series Strawberry Panic.
The Maiden's Prayer was used in a macabre context in Mary Wilkins Freeman's ghost story The Wind in the Rose-Bush (published 1903), where the main character, roused from sleep by the sound of the melody being played in a seemingly empty house, rushed downstairs to see who was at the piano, only to find that there was no one there.
- McWhorter, Cowboy Fiddler, pp. 59–60: "Bob said, 'He played "The Spanish Two-Step" and I locked the door where he couldn't get out and nobody else could get in, and I made him stay there until he taught me that and "Maiden's Prayer." Finally he nodded. I didn't know whether he needed to go to the bathroom or if I was doing it right, but I let him out.' That Mexican taught him those two tunes."
- Praguefrank's Country Music Discographies: Bob Wills – part II Retrieved 2 January 2012
- Allmusic "Maiden's Prayer" Bob Wills with music sample Retrieved 1 January 2012
- Allmusic I've Got a Tiger by the Tail Buck Owens Review with chart and music sample Retrieved 1 January 2012
- Allmusic "A Maiden's Prayer" Bob Wills with music sample Retrieved 1 January 2012
- Allmusic San Antonio Rose Ray Price Review with music sample Retrieved 1 January 2012
- Allmusic Red Headed Stranger Willie Nelson Review with chart and music sample Retrieved 1 January 2012
- "'A Maiden's Prayer': A call to dump all our garbage" by Leo Maliksi (7 October 2008)
- "From Consensus to Shifting Coalition: Tri-partite Politics in the Taipei City Council", p. 21, by Jaushieh Joseph Wu, National Chengchi University, in Working Papers in Taiwan Studies No. 8 (where the piece is mistakenly attributed to Beethoven)