Nicaragua: “¡Oh, Señor!” by Carlos Ramírez Velásquez
Last year a friend of mine told me about a special devotional song, ¡Oh, Señor! (“O Lord”), for voice and accompaniment composed by Carlos Ramírez Velásquez (1887-1976). It was the one song she remembered of the composer’s that was very special to her, so she asked me to track it down.
Turns out, there are a handful of manuscript copies that survive from which editions could easily be made.
Fortunately, I was able to get a hold of a recording of the song made on a vintage LP (78rpm), produced many years ago on a date yet to be determined. The LP looks more like a 33rpm but only plays at 78rpm, which may be a hint as to when it was pressed.
After listening to the LP, I immediately understood why it was so special to my friend. It is a beautiful and haunting work.
Yet the LP is somewhat deteriorated and the beginning of the recording is unplayable. There are cracks near the edge. Nevertheless, I was able to not only listen to most of the song, but I also successfully digitized that which could be saved.
Here’s an ample fragment of the devotional song ¡Oh, Señor! by Carlos Ramírez Velásquez (text by Encarnación Alberto Serrano), performed by vocalist Pastora Cruz and guitarist Carlos Ramírez Alvarado (presumably, a relative of the composer), taken from an informal Grabadora Nacional, Managua Nic. recording made a number of decades ago.
N.B. The LP label (pictured above) incorrectly attributes the song to another noted Nicaraguan composer, “Alejandro Ve[ga] Matus.” At some point, someone scratched out the name in pen and added “C. Ramírez V.” Someone else (or perhaps the same person) then filled-in don Carlos’ second last name in pencil. They also added “Alvarado” to the guitarist’s name, in an attempt to distinguish him from the composer. But, who knows? It may have actually been don Carlos who accompanied the singer on the recording, and whomever added Alvarado was mistaken. After all, the Ramírez family of musicians from Masaya and Masatepe are, to this day, renowned for their musical abilities. It is not out of the realm of possibility that don Carlos might have also played guitar.