Today there is much excitement in France about the release on April 22, 2013, just four days from now, of the album "Thérèse: Vivre d'Amour," the poetry of St. Thérèse set to music. For more about this unique project, see my article of April 7th. Previews of the individual songs "Vivre d'Amour" and "Jeter des Fleurs" were already released. Now a third song, "La Fiancée," has been released in preview. Hear an excerpt above.
The text of "La Fiancée" in the preview above consists of verses 7, 8, and 9 of Thérèse's poem "The Responses of St. Agnes." Saint Thérèse wrote this beautiful "engagement poem" for the feast of her sister, Mother Agnès of Jesus, on January 21. 1896. She based it on the "responses" from the Office of the young Roman martyr, St. Agnes. It was on this same feast day in 1896 that she gave to Mother Agnès the just-completed first manuscript of her memoir, later to be published as Story of a Soul.
Some Background on Thérèse as a Poet
In the last four and a half years of her life, St. Thérèse wrote 54 poems. Many were written at the request of her fellow nuns; some were composed for special occasions, such as when a nun received the habit or made her vows. All her poems were written to be sung to the music of her favorite songs. To read the text of the poems sung on the album "Vivre d'Amour," please consult the bilingual edition, The Poetry of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux, tr. Donald Kinney, O.C.D., ICS Publications, 1996. In English, it contains a valuable preface by Jean Guitton; a superb General Introduction by Guy Gaucher, O.C.D.; and the text of each poem together with notes and introductions. In French, the text of each poem appears. To learn more about the book, click the image.
TheEnglish text of each poem, together with Therese's handwritten manuscript and the musical score to which Therese meant it to be sung, may also be read at the Web site of the Archives of the Carmel of Lisieux. The French textwith manuscript and score, is available at the Archives site. The French text is downloadable from that site.
The music on this album is to presented live in France, not in concert halls but before altars. According to Charts in France, various churches are hosting the team of artists for a short tour in September. If it is successful, "Vivre d'Amour" may be the subject of a tour of the Zéniths (a series of large theatres or concert halls, like indoor arenas but seating at least 3,000 people, found in many cities in France) in 2014. So, through these artists, Saint Thérèse will continue to "sing the Mercies of the Lord" in venues outside the churches. Pray and hope that these performances and this album '"Vivre d'Amour" create a wave of interest in St. Thérèse's poems that will lead many listeners to engage with her life and spirituality. Look forward to its release on Monday, April 22! What do you think of the previews?