The Strange and Wonderful Story of Sister Germaine

It’s not very often that I do what I would call “heartwarming” stories on this blog.  Perhaps I should do more; in the world we live in, we could use a few every now and then.  But so many of them are, to put it bluntly, “hokey” or trite.

This one is an exception.

One my “blog partners” is The Ancient Star-Song, AFAIK the most visited ongoing music blog for “Jesus Music” of the 1960’s and 1970’s.  Its webmaster, “Diakoneo,” has built a real ministry around bringing back to life the music of an era of Christian witness that’s too often (and sadly) forgotten.  He’s done this through many personal struggles and the endless issue of the copyright.  (Personally, I hope that what I do in ministry is remembered in any way thirty or forty years out, but I digress…)

In addition to music from Evangelical sources, he posts music from Roman Catholic ones as well.  In the wake of Vatican II and the wide-reaching changes in Roman Catholicism that took place in those years, some very creative music came out.  Evangelicals are generally ignorant of it, and Catholic traditionalists (including the current Holy Father) would rather see it forgotten, but for those of us who were Roman Catholic in those days, the impact cannot be swept under the rug.

One very early album of this kind is Sister Germaine’s Songs of Salvation.  Released in 1966, it was a pioneering work at the dawn of contemporary Roman Catholic music.  Some of that music, such as the late Peter Scholtes’ They Will Know We Are Christians By Our Love is better known, but this one is a gem.  Alternating between narrative and song, it makes for good listening.

Diakoneo posted this in May 2007, one of his first postings.  Five months later he got a posting from “Lisa” which speaks for itself:

Thank you so very much for making this album available to me.

It is a very special memory/heirloom for me, as “Sister Germaine” is my mother!

Most of her convent disbanded due to problems involving the bishop. He thought the Glenmary Nuns were too progressive.

Sister Germaine and many of her convent sisters left Glenmary to search out God in the real world.

Later, she ran into my future father in university, fell in love, married, and had two daughters. (I am the first.)

Many of her memorabilia items from “back in the day” were destroyed in an accident (including her guitar.) Even though we were able to retrieve her album, it was not in the best condition for copying to play on modern sound systems.

Now I am to be married, and because of your website, I will be able to play her music at the ceremony.

My mother, formerly known as “Sister Germaine …America’s singing nun”; is a wonderful, kind and loving woman. The harshness of the world has never embittered her, and she continues to bring joy to those around her.

What a sweet gift it will be, when she hears her voice singing the melodies she created, during the wedding!

Thanks again.

God bless,
Lisa

When you cast seed out, you never know what will come back.  May we all continue to do what God has called us to do, even if the fruit is not immediately evident.

3 thoughts on “The Strange and Wonderful Story of Sister Germaine”

  1. I myself remember this album well and loved it! What wonderful memories are evoked when reading the titles of the songs once again!

  2. Way back when I discovered this album and often wondered what became of Sr. Germaine. Now I am a Roman Catholic Womanpriest and frequently sing the chorus of her song “Love One Another” at the end of a graveside service as the mourners prepare to leave.

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