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October 9, 2010

The Village of St. Bernadette: the Missing Verse

Filed under: Uncategorized — Fr. John Larson @ 3:00 pm

Two rather strongly Marian songs made the top ten over the years — back in the 1950s and 1960s. The second, “The Village of St. Bernadette,” was made famous in the United States by a version sung by Andy Williams.

I was never all that impressed with the song. There’s hardly any content to it. A pilgrim was impressed with visiting Lourdes, mentions a “feeling divine” while at the grotto and whispers a prayer. The content seems to be based on a feeling.

Recently I purchased an alternative 45 of the song, which was written by Eula Parker, a British musician. In this alternative sung by Toni Arden, there is an extra verse that makes the song complete and worthy of note. Here is the verse:

Down to the grotto,
I followed in song
Pilgrims all weary
From journeys so long
Rich and the poor,
The strong and the lame,
Thousands all praising the sweet Lady’s name.

Immediately, without a chorus, she continues with the verse used in Andy William’s version.

There, like a dream, this wonderful night
I gazed at the grotto aglow in the light
A feeling divine swept over me there
I fell to my knees as I whispered the prayer
Ave, Ave, Ave Maria
Ave, Ave, Ave Maria

The missing verse completes the song for me. It synthesizes a trip to Lourdes beautifully.

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