Ancient Prayers

May 9th 2023
Eastern Switzerland
Archive of the future
Sound timbre of a language
Field research
Listening as activism
Time scales

Cäcilia Reber Jörger was born in Domat/Ems (Grisons, Switzerland) in 1929

She grew up and lived there until the age of 30, when she moved with her family to Lucerne, where she still lives. She is almost blind and does not hear very well. But she wanted to recite three prayers to me that she had learned from her grandmother. Her grandmother was also born and raised in Domat/Ems. At that time, prayer was an important part of everyday life and of life itself. Cäcilia still prays these prayers herself.

Cäcilia speaks Ems Romansh, which is spoken almost nowhere else but in Domat/Ems. The prayers themselves are a mixture of different Romansh idioms. Some of the expressions are difficult to understand and incomprehensible because, as Cäcilia told me, she only learned the prayers by listening, by sound, by melody, and she was not always aware of the exact meaning of the different words. Even today, she does not know all the words of the prayers she says. She simply articulates them according to her feelings. She does not know where the prayers come from.