Thursday, August 08, 2013

He converted him by his joy

Among my dad's extensive LP collection (remember those?) was this album by the "Singing Nun" (Soeure Sourire -- Sister Smile in French), which including the hit 1960s single "Dominique."

It is a catchy tune, with a frolicsome air. As a kid (in the 1980s!) I listened to it often. It was really through listening to various records that I learned to savor the texture and feel of the words of different languages (Beethoven's 9th, with Schiller's, "Ode to Joy" was another favorite).
Dominique, nique nique s'en allait tout simplement
Routier pauvre et chantant
En tous chemins, en tous lieux
Il ne parle que du bon Dieu
Il ne parle que du bon Dieu 
Dominic, Nic, Nic
He goes along very simply
Travelling in poverty and singing.
On every road, in every place,
He just talks about the good Lord,
He just talks about the good Lord.
The line that I remember so clearly is the one where St. Dominic encounters a heretic on the road who casts him into thorns. But he converts him, by his joy. I know the French words by heart ...
Certain jour un heretique
Par des ronces le conduit Mais notre pere Dominique
Par sa joie le convertit.
The album was recorded by Sr. Luc-Gabrielle, born Jeanne Deckers, a Belgian Dominican sister. Her life took a difficult and tragic turn after the album was recorded. In the tumultuous years after the Council, and amid conflicts with her order because of her musical fame, she left the convent in 1966, and grew increasingly disillusioned with Catholic doctrine (eventually composing an encomium to the Pill). She moved in with a close female friend. Her musical career never really took off again. They committed suicide together in 1985, amid financial difficulties.

The song "Dominique" is a tribute to the founder of the Order of Preachers, St. Dominic Guzmann, whose feast the Church marks today, August 8. May he intercede for the soul of this wayward daughter. May his joy, which is the joy of the Holy Spirit, grow and deepen within our own hearts.


Niall Mor said...

Fr. Gashwin, my parents, like yours, had a copy of this album when I was growing up, and it was also one of my favorite records during my childhood. It wasn't until many years later that I learned about Jeanne Deckers's rejection of the Dominican order and the Catholic Church and her eventual tragic death by suicide. It is such a terrible s shame that someone who had such obvious musical talent, joy, and enthusiasm that you can still hear in the songs, ended her life in such a terrible way. We can only commend her to the mercy of God.

Christina said...

This is great!