On the Franciscan calendar all feasts of our Blessed Virgin Mary are ours to celebrate. As we near the day set aside to remember the significance of Our Lady of Lourdes, Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity highlight the beautiful Song of Bernadette, one of our favorite hymns created with the collaborative energies of Jennifer Warnes and Leonard Cohen.
This hymn of exquisite melody and meaningful lyrics is truly our February favorite. Bernadette, a young maiden who truly believes in the beautiful lady who comes to her so that many souls are healed through her son Jesus, is humbly portrayed.
Jennifer, singer, songwriter and recording artist reflects:
I was given the name Bernadette at birth. But my siblings preferred the name “Jennifer” so my name was changed one week later. In 1979, on tour in the south of France with Leonard Cohen, I began writing a series of letters between the “Bernadette” I almost was, and “Jennifer”–two energies within me. One innocent, and the other who had fallen for the world.
The letters were just an experiment: “Dear Bernadette, I’m so lost right now.” “Hello dear Jennifer, don’t worry, I’m here, and it’s gonna be okay.”
I showed Leonard my letters to which he replied, “There’s a song in here…just start at the beginning…”There was a child named Bernadette, I heard the story long ago…and then keep going….”
So the song arose in a bus nearby Lourdes. I was admiring Bernadette’s countryside from the bus window, thinking about the great Saint who held her ground so well, and was not swayed from what she knew to be true.
But the song is also about me longing to return to a place that was more pure, honest and true. I still long for this, and I think others do too.
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