This song is filled with meaning for me. I listened to it the day before dropping out of Colorado State, to pursue religious life, it was -oddly enough- sung on my entrance day into Carmel, chanted in the speakroom as a community frequently and of course, now. It took my entrance to realize that these lyrics were written by Therese herself, taken from one of her poems, and composed into a three-part harmony: a beautiful polyphony piece. The first time I heard the lyrics, and a few times right in the middle of singing it, would be brought to tears by the mere hopefulness of the message. There is a reason Therese is a Doctor of the Church. Many think of Therese as a “delicate flower” (which vexes me greatly) when in reality, she is a mighty oak! I have posted the original before, but this one is my own. All rights and background music belong totally to Sister Claire Sokol, OCD. Before Carmel I was typically always a soprano in choir, but some years prior I observed an exceptionally talented friend of mine, who plays the organ, conducts Gregorian chant and sings 2nds (alto). She had the ability to sing remarkably high but chose 2nds because her voice has such a wide range that she preferred singing the melody. My eyes were opened, as if blinking into the sun, when I entered Carmel because we sang all the propers for the Traditional Latin Mass and had three liturgical binders filled with polyphony.
Note: There were 1sts, 2nds and 3rds (3rds are essentially bass- if you recall how low men can sing-it is basically singing the male part as the notes were lower than I ever thought imaginable for a woman to sing).
These three parts combined into sacred music, when heard in perfect harmony, should serve as a reminder that polyphony and the glorious Gregorian chant belong totally to the angels and is most likely the music we will hear in heaven for all eternity, as they are consecrated, set apart for Our Lord. That is why no other genre of music should be used in the Mass, they have not been consecrated. Thank God it will not be praise and worship music in heaven! Not only does Our Lord have different taste than we creatures, but he has better taste. Can you picture an angel playing mariachi music before the throne of God? Me neither. Providentially enough, since we were not allowed to pick between the three parts, I was placed with the 2nds, throughout my entire duration in Carmel. I immediately thought of my friend and I knew instantly why she chose it. It was hard; extremely hard! My friend made it look so easy. I, not having her ability to fit in with just any given vocal range, having only done soprano, had to learn all over again. The melody is the most difficult part to master, but over time, I really did love it and it taught me a great deal about music. I took my Mother Superior aside one day, and confided to her how I missed being soprano, because 2nds were too complicated for me. She said, “the Holy Ghost chooses where we place you and you will stay in 2nds.” I was really discouraged at first, but now I am grateful I was forced to stay and learn. I hope you enjoy this three part piece just as much as I do, and may it make you long, even more so, for your heavenly home! As Our Lady of Kibeho said-
Do not work for things of this world, they do not belong to you. You are only temporary travelers.
Liber Brevior, with Rhythmic Signs of Solesmes.
Lyrics to St. Therese’s Canticle of Love.
Composed by Sister Claire Sokol, OCD from the poems of St. Therese of the Child Jesus and of the Holy Face.
How great and tender is our God, who has smiled on the lowly.
Eternally my heart will sing a new canticle of love.
Come, all who hunger, all who thirst, all who long for fulfillment.
The God of mercy waits for you as a mother her child.
O come to the living water, fear not your weakness.
Forever trusting in God’s merciful love.
Through the shadows of this night, love will be my guiding light.
Presence hidden from my sight, ‘til the clouds are put to flight.
Beneath your gaze I’ve blossomed forth, as a rose in the sunshine.
With joyful heart I’ve given all to the mystery of love.
In peace I will come before you with empty hands,
relying solely on your merciful love.
Through the veil your face appears, beauty shrouded, bathed in tears.
Bread of sinners I will share, rose unpetaled everywhere.
Ah! My God, I will sing of your love for this one eternal day.
For this one eternal today, eternal today.
Transformed in Love’s consuming fire, lifted up in glory.
Her fragrance filling all the earth, drawing us after her.
Until, in eternity we join in one chorus.
Forever singing of God’s merciful love.
Canticle of love, song of love.
This eternal day I will sing, sing of your love.
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*A most blessed feast of the apparition of Saint Michael the Archangel! a first class feast in the Carmelite rite Calendar!*