Desiderata Performed by Renee Morgan Brooks

Inspiring Performance of the Desiderata and Amazing Grace

My good friend, Renee Morgan Brooks, performing an amazing version of Desiderata and leading straight into a soulful rendition of Amazing Grace.  The word "desiderata" is Latin and means ‘things that are yearned for’, and ‘essential things’.  After watching Renee’s inspiring performance scroll below the video to find out more about the fascinating background of this amazing poem.  

 Who Wrote Desiderata?
Desiderata was written in 1927 by Max Ehrmann. Max was born on September 16th, 1872 in Terre Haute, Indiana to German immigrants. He graduated from DePauw University in Greencastle in 1894, and after studying law and philosophy at Harvard returned to Terre Haute to practice law.  He also began a life-long love affair with writing and became known as the ‘Poet Laureate’ of Terre Haute, even though his writings did not become widely known until after his death.  Desiderata, one of his most famous poems, was originally copyrighted in 1927 as ‘Go Placidly Amid The Noise And Haste’.

In 1933 Max included a copy of Desiderata in a Christmas message to a friend but never added any copyright notice, a factor which featured strongly in legal considerations in the 1970’s about Desiderata copyright .

In 1942, US Army psychiatrist Merill Moore contacted Max to let him know that he used the Desiderata poem in his therapy work.  He wrote to him again 2 years later suggesting that the poem should be bottled and sold as ‘Dr Ehrmann’s Magic Soul Medicine’.

Shortly before his death in 1945, Max married Bertha, also an avid and published writer. After Max’s death, Bertha published  among other poems, the Desiderata in a collection titled The Poems Of Max Ehrmann. She re-renewed the Desiderata copyright in 1948 and 1954. When Bertha died in 1962, the copyright ownership passed to her nephew, Richmond Wight.  In 1975 he sold the copyright to Crescendo Publishing Company.

Confusion Over Date Desiderata Was Written
Confusion around the date Desiderata was actually written began in the late 1950’s when Rev. Frederick Kates, the rector of St. Paul’s Church in Baltimore, Maryland, (1956-1961) compiled the poem into a small booklet of devotional poetry for his congregation.  The page on which Desiderata was had the notation, "Old St. Paul’s Church, Baltimore A.D. 1692 — the year of the church’s founding.

As the material was shared and passed along from one person to another and made its way outside of St. Paul’s congregation copies with the "Old St. Paul’s Church" notation were printed and circulated and at some point someone assumed that the poem itself was from 1692, the date that was on the letterhead indicating the founding of the church. The ancient date probably added to the poem’s attraction and even though the language used in the poem is of a more modern vein people people who came across the poem mistakenly assumed it was written in 1692.

Adlai Stevenson’s Influence
The poem gained widespread attention in 1965 when a copy was found near the bedside of American politician, Adlai Stevenson when he died.  Apparently he had planned to put a copy in his Christmas cards. The incorrect date of the poem’s origin continued and believing there to be no copyright concerns because of the poem’s age printers began putting out numerous posters of the poem. Around this time or even before the "Flower Children" of the 1960’s adopted the Desiderata.  They adored it because they felt that the "ancient" writing validated their avocations for a world of peace and love.

Les Crane and Copyright Issues
In 1971singer Les Crane used the Desiderata words in his 1971 hit pop record, for which he received a Grammy award for the ‘best spoken word recording’. Supposedly he saw the Desiderata verse on a poster and believed the words to be in the public domain, but then (so the story goes) had to share his royalties with the then Desiderata copyright owners — the Crescendo Publishing Company.

Confusion continues to abound over the copyright status of Desiderata. While it appears that the ruling of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division (Bell v. Combined Registry, Co.) supporting the abandonment of copyright is valid (it was upheld by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit), the late Mr. Robert Bell, the owner of the copyright until his death in 2009, had been successful in pursuing his copyright claim in other jurisdictions of the United States.

Old St. Paul’s Continues to Receive Inquires about Desiderata
As for the relationship of the poem with Old St. Paul’s Church — the ongoing confusion also  continues. Old St. Paul’s has received inquiries on the Desiderata from all around the world and numerous visitors to Baltimore come to the church expecting to be able to see the original Desiderata.

April 28 , 2010 | | In: Inspiration, Inspirational Video Clips, Music

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