Sunday, October 30, 2011

Little Girl Rescues Song from Rubbish Bin

We enjoy singing Michael Baughen's version of Sister Suzanne Toolan's I Am The Bread of Life in our church. In fact, we sang it this morning.

You will notice that Suzanne's words are somewhat different from Michael's. In fact, Michael has added an introductory verse, Come Let Us Worship Christ.

I was interested to read Suzanne's story of how a little girl rescued her song from the "circular filing cabinet."

It was 1966 and Mercy Sister Suzanne Toolan had been asked to write a song for an event in the San Francisco archdiocese. With the deadline looming, she worked on a song in an unoccupied room next to the infirmary in the Catholic girls’ high school where she taught.

“I worked on it, and I tore it up. I thought, ‘This will not do,’ ” Toolan said. “And this little girl came out of the infirmary and said, ‘What was that? That was beautiful!’ I went right back and Scotch-taped it up.”

That schoolgirl saved “I Am the Bread of Life,” one of the most popular hymns of the Second Vatican Council era.

Toolan credits Father John Olivier at a seminary near her convent in Burlingame, California, with helping get the word out about her songs.

“He began to hear some of my things and he took it back to the seminary. And that’s how I think most of my things got out.”

“I Am the Bread of Life” is in many Catholic hymnals, as well as in the official hymnbooks of the Episcopal, Lutheran and Methodist churches. “People keep giving me copies of it when they go to Europe or Asia, even,” Toolan said. “It’s in different languages. It’s thrilling.”

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