RMG – Getting to know Don Bosco: some of the most famous songs dedicated to him

27 January 2023

(ANS - Rome) - Much has already been written about Don Bosco's attention to music. Already at Valdocco, he experimented with musical animation as a privileged communicative and educational channel. And his aphorism "an oratory without music is a body without a soul" is among the most famous and celebrated mottos of the Saint of Youth. This is precisely why it is not surprising that Don Bosco himself has been "sung" and paid homage to in music in many different ways.

As with the film and video representations, it would be a feat bordering on the impossible to make a complete census of the songs relating to Don Bosco, also given the vastness of the Salesian Family, which today spans over 130 countries of the world and countless languages and dialects.

However, some pieces are more representative than others, either because they have also been translated and disseminated more widely, or because they marked their era, or because they were produced and used for special Salesian anniversaries...

They certainly include the very famous "Giù dai colli - Down from the Hills," often also called "Don Bosco Ritorna - Returns," from the incipit of the refrain. This hymn was born on the eve of June 9, 1929, when Don Bosco's remains were moved from Valsalice (where Don Bosco was initially buried at the Salesian training house) to Valdocco. It was set to music for the occasion by Salesian Fr. Michele Gregorio to words by Fr. Secondo Rastello, who, starting from Don Bosco's youth, also narrated the descent from the hill of Valsalice to Turin followed by many faithful.

Another celebrated piece is "Padre, maestro e amico - Father, Teacher and Friend" by Salesian Angelo Lagorio, made on the occasion of the centenary of the death of the Saint in 1988.

Also belonging to the shared baggage of Salesian tradition, some used even for liturgical celebrations, or moments of animation, are other pieces, such as "Salve, Don Bosco santo" (L. Frattallone); "Verdi le tue valli" (F. Pasqualetti); "Sapientiam" (L. Lasagna); "Don Bosco, la gloria dei cieli" (V. Cimatti); "Campane suonate" (G. Pagella); and "Don Bosco 2000" (D. Machetta)

In more recent times, due to the Bicentennial of Don Bosco's birth, celebrated in 2015, other highly successful songs have been written and performed, played and danced in dozens of oratories around the world, such as: "Da mihi animas" (G. Driussi), "Un sogno che vola - A dream that flies" (M. Palazzo), or the Spanish "Bienvenido Don Bosco" (S. Codera), much used during the stops in Spain and Spanish-speaking countries of the pilgrimage of Don Bosco's urn - still a hit, with over 1.4 million views in the official video on YouTube.

In addition to the web, fans of Salesian music will be able to find numerous useful resources (sheet music, songs with notes) on most of the songs mentioned, and others, on "BoscoLink," the digital platform of the Salesians of the East Asia-Oceania Region, and from the website of the Southern Italy Province, which for the Feast of Don Bosco 2023 is making available the songs contained in the album "Siamo noi don Bosco - We are Don Bosco" and the song "Stoffa di Santità." 


ANS - “Agenzia iNfo Salesiana” is a on-line almost daily publication, the communication agency of the Salesian Congregation enrolled in the Press Register of the Tibunal of Rome as n 153/2007.

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