Friday, October 18, 2013

The Singing Nun---Jeanine Deckers

Today would have been the 80th birthday of Jeanine Deckers, aka The Singing Nun. She was a "one hit wonder" when Dominique soared to the top of the charts after she appeared on the Ed Sullivan show in 1963.

In real life, her story was quite tragic. I've always had a soft spot in my heart for her, perhaps because she was caught up in the winds of change that swept through the Church after Vatican II, and she seems to  have come out the worse for it.

After she left the convent, she became a struggling artist and never really went anywhere with her music. She attempted to start a school for struggling kids at one point, but the venture went under. After the Belgian government came after her claiming she owed back taxes for Dominique, she faced financial ruin. Under all the pressure she tragically took her own life at the age of 52.

In an attempt to raise funds, she came out with a disco version of Dominique in which she sings the song as she wanders through the ruins of an ancient cathedral somewhere in Belgium or France. This image of a long-faded star singing in the ruins is like an icon of the decline of faith in our time. It's rather sad. But the Church in some way lives out the mysteries of the life of Jesus. In some ages, the way of the cross and the crucifixion dominate. In others, the resurrection. The Church has certainly been walking the way of the cross as faith seems to be evaporating in so many hearts. But despite it all, we always have hope because Calvary always leads to Easter--always.

Clip of the original Dominique here.

Clip of the disco version in the ruined cathedral here.

Despite the brokenness of her life, and indeed perhaps even because of it, I firmly believe that Jesus had mercy on her soul and she came to a place of salvation. The later tragedies of her life cannot change the reality that her song about St. Dominic caused many to praise God, even if they didn't quite realize what they were singing.

May she rest in peace.

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.

A l'e poque ou Jean-sans-Terre de' Angleterre etait Roi
Dominique, notre Pere, combattit les Albigeois
Repeat first 4 lines: Chorus

Ni chameau, ni diligence il parcout l'Europe a pied
Scandinavie ou Provence dans la sainte pauvrete

Enflamma de toute ecole filles et garcons pleins d'ardeur
Et pour semer la Parole inventa les Freres-Precheurs

Chez Dominique et ses freres le pain s'en vint a manquer
Et deux anges se presenterent portant de grands pains dores

Dominique vit en reve les precheurs du monde entier
Sous le manteau de la Vierge en grand nombre rassembles

Dominique, mon bon Pere, garde-nous simples et gais
Pour annoncer a nos freres la Vie et la Verite

1 comment:

Ruth Ann Pilney said...

I was a Catholic high school student studying French when the album was circulating. So, it helped me with learning that language. I have the whole album, but I don't have a record player on which to listen to it.

I'm sad to think of how her life developed, but I agree with you and hope she is in heaven with God.