"Ah, yes, They were popular in the sixties. I think they were called The Singing Nuns." She told me.
When I got home I found "The Singing Nun" on the internet and listened to samples of her other music. I ordered a cassette. It arrived three days later and I was eager to hear it. I had been hoping it would all be as enchanting as the song I remembered from the grocery store had been and it was...and then some.
I was amazed by the infectious melodies and the beauty of the lyrics. First of all, the song "Dominque" was about St. Dominic, the founder of the order where this Belgian nun, Sr. Luc-Gabrielle, was serving her novitiate. The insert informed me that she called herself "Soeur Sourire" or "Sister Smile" but was re-christened "The Singing Nun" when, in 1963, the single Dominique and the album that contained it shot to number one on the charts in the United States. Apparently, she even made an appearance shortly after on the Ed Sullivan Show.
The insert also informed me that she affectionately called her guitar, "Sister Adele," which made sense of the lyrics in the second song on the album...
In all the tones of her whole soul Adele dedicated herself to the Lord. And her songs proclaimed everywhere that serving God was her happiness. Behind the harps and zithers forming the orchestra of heaven, one day, Adele, the humble guitar, will be heard in the abode of God. [translated]Lyrics like these and the music that expressed them seemed to indicate that "Soeur Sourire" was a pure and gentle soul with a lovely voice and a rare gift for melody.
I was eager to learn her every song by heart. I listened while driving, while cleaning, whenever and wherever I could. The boys enjoyed the songs, too, and since French is the foreign language of choice for study here at Temple Academy, I considered it educational as well. Soon, I heard Jeremy whistling the happy tunes. Our whole family was hooked. I began to think of "Soeur Sourire" as an older sister, looking down and smiling upon us as we sang her songs of love and praise.
Then it happened. I decided to learn more about my "older sister" and I didn't like what I discovered. In short, I found that "Soeur Sourire" was very much a child of the sixties. She publicly supported things she should not have and in direct defiance to authorities to whom she was lawfully subject, she left her order, became involved in an unseemly relationship, and met a premature and disreputable demise. Enough said.
It may seem silly, but I was heartbroken. Oh well, I reasoned within myself, so she wasn't what you thought. Those songs are still lovely and those lyrics are just as meaningful-- if only to you. But I couldn't listen to the music in the same way again. The catchy tunes, rather than lifting my spirits, reminded me of disappointment and left me with a feeling of longing and sadness.
My "older sister" was gone. In fact, I don't know if she ever was real. It is hard for me to imagine anyone writing such lyrics without having a sincere love for God, but I don't know. I can't explain it, and I don't have to. God knows her heart and God will be her judge. "Nothing prevents you from praying for her." Jeremy said when I shared the sad news. He was right-- and I did.
As I reflected on this experience, it occurred to me how natural my feelings were. We all want to see beauty, truth, and goodness united. We don't like the disjoint between great art and a life poorly lived. We want a chaste Mozart and a prudent Jefferson; we want a humble Michelangelo and an orthodox Da Vinci. We want those who inspire us to be inspiring in every way. We desire to see great beauty, truth, and goodness united in a single creature, but most often they are not-- not perfectly anyway.
Our desire to see these qualities together is ultimately a desire for God, for only in Him are beauty, truth, and goodness perfect and united.
"Our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee." --St. Augustine.