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Dominique (A Belgian Nun's Song)

By Thomas Keyes
June 24, 2006

“Dominique” is a delightful little historico-religious ballad of 1963, composed and sung by Jeanine Decker, a Belgian nun of the Dominican Order. She was known in her convent as Soeur Luc Gabriel, but popularly she was called Soeur Sourire (Sister Smile) or the Singing Nun.

It would be a mistake to regard the innocence and purity of the song as something worthy of devotional ecstasy however, in view of Decker’s tragic and irreligious end, which I won’t retell here. One can read about it here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeanine_Deckers

The ballad is about the role of St. Dominic in the Albigensian Crusade (1209-1229) inititiated by the Catholic Church against the Albigensian heresy that was popular in Languedoc, in Provence, now the south of France. This campaign led to the establishment of the Dominican Order of monks and nuns, which is also called the Order of Preachers. John Lackland was the nickname of King John of England (lived 1166-1216; reigned 1199-1216), who lost territory in France that had been held by England. This is the same King John that signed the Magna Carta.

Despite the misadventures of Jeanine Decker and the dubious character of the Catholic creed, we can enjoy this lovely little song. I’ve known parts of this song since its first appearance in 1963, but only in 2003, thanks to Internet, was I able to get the complete French lyrics, which I now know as if by second nature.

The song can be heard beautifully sung at the following URL, which however has limited bandwidth, which makes the song temporarily inaccessible from time to time:

http://www.geocities.com/mp3_arsenaljd/Dominique.mp3.wma

Below I have given the complete French lyrics, with my own extemporaneous translation. However, many translations and rewrites can be found on line.

DOMINIQUE (Original French Lyrics)

Dominique, nique, nique,
S’en allait tous simplement
Routier pauvre et chantant.
En tous chemins, en tous lieux,
Il ne parle que du bon Dieu,
Il ne parle que du bon Dieu,

A l’époque où Jean Sans Terre
D’Angleterre était le roi,
Dominique, notre Père,
Combattit les Albigeois.

Dominique, nique, nique,
S’en allait tous simplement
Routier pauvre et chantant.
En tous chemins, en tous lieux,
Il ne parle que du bon Dieu,
Il ne parle que du bon Dieu,

Certain jour, un hérétique
Par des ronces le conduit,
Mais notre Père, Dominique,
Par sa joie le convertit-

Dominique, nique, nique,
S’en allait tous simplement
Routier pauvre et chantant.
En tous chemins, en tous lieux,
Il ne parle que du bon Dieu,
Il ne parle que du bon Dieu,

Ni chameau, ni diligence,
Il parcourt l’Europe à pied,
Scandinavie ou Provence,
Dans la sainte pauvreté.

Dominique, nique, nique,
S’en allait tous simplement
Routier pauvre et chantant.
En tous chemins, en tous lieux,
Il ne parle que du bon Dieu,
Il ne parle que du bon Dieu,

Enflammá des toutes écoles
Filles et garçons pleins d’ardeur,
Et pour semer la parole,
Inventá les Frères Prêcheurs.

Dominique, nique, nique,
S’en allait tous simplement
Routier pauvre et chantant.
En tous chemins, en tous lieux,
Il ne parle que du bon Dieu,
Il ne parle que du bon Dieu,

Chez Dominique et ses frères,
Le pain s’en va à manquer,
Et deux anges se preséntèrent,
Portant deux grands pains dorés.

Dominique, nique, nique,
S’en allait tous simplement
Routier pauvre et chantant.
En tous chemins, en tous lieux,
Il ne parle que du bon Dieu,
Il ne parle que du bon Dieu,

Dominique vit en rêve
Les prêcheurs du monde entier
Sous le manteau de la Vierge
En grand nombre rassemblés.

Dominique, nique, nique,
S’en allait tous simplement
Routier pauvre et chantant.
En tous chemins, en tous lieux,
Il ne parle que du bon Dieu,
Il ne parle que du bon Dieu,

Dominique, mon bon Père,
Garde-nous simples et gais
Pour announcer à nos frères
La Vie et la Verité.

Dominique, nique, nique,
S’en allait tous simplement
Routier pauvre et chantant.
En tous chemins, en tous lieux,
Il ne parle que du bon Dieu,
Il ne parle que du bon Dieu,

DOMINIQUE (Literal English Translation)

Dominique, nique, nique
Goes along very simply
Traveling in poverty and singing.
On every road, in every place,
He just talks about the Lord,
He just talks about the Lord.

In the age when John Lackland
Was the king of England,
Our father, Dominique,
Fought the Albigensians.

Dominique, nique, nique
Goes along very simply
Traveling in poverty and singing.
On every road, in every place,
He just talks about the Lord,
He just talks about the Lord.

One day a heretic
Led him through the brambles,
But our father, Dominique,
Through his own joy, converted him.

Dominique, nique, nique
Goes along very simply
Traveling in poverty and singing.
On every road, in every place,
He just talks about the Lord,
He just talks about the Lord.

Without a camel or a coach,
He travelled Europe on foot,
Scandinavia and Provence,
In saintly poverty.

Dominique, nique, nique
Goes along very simply
Traveling in poverty and singing.
On every road, in every place,
He just talks about the Lord,
He just talks about the Lord.

He enflamed with ardor
Boys and girls of every school,
And by sowing the word
He founded the Brother Preachers.

Dominique, nique, nique
Goes along very simply
Traveling in poverty and singing.
On every road, in every place,
He just talks about the Lord,
He just talks about the Lord.

In the home of Dominique and his brothers,
Bread started becoming scarce,
And two angels presented themselves,
Bearing two great golden loaves.

Dominique, nique, nique
Goes along very simply
Traveling in poverty and singing.
On every road, in every place,
He just talks about the Lord,
He just talks about the Lord.

Dominique saw in a dream
The preachers of the whole world
Under the mantle of the Virgin
In great number assembled.

Dominique, nique, nique
Goes along very simply
Traveling in poverty and singing.
On every road, in every place,
He just talks about the Lord,
He just talks about the Lord.

Dominique, my good Father,
Keep us simple and happy
By announcing to our brothers
The Way and the Truth.

Dominique, nique, nique
Goes along very simply
Traveling in poverty and singing.
On every road, in every place,
He just talks about the Lord,
He just talks about the Lord.

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About the author Thomas Keyes: I have written two books: A SOJOURN IN ASIA (non-fiction) and A TALE OF UNG (fiction), neither published so far.

I have studied languages for years and traveled extensively on five continents.

Email: udikeyes@yahoo.com


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