Song du Jour

Song du Jour

Benedictine Thoughts, Teachings, and Prayers

Les Misersables PART II

February 4, 2013




In 1986, I had acquired the Soundtrack of the Broadway Play, Les Miserables performed by the London cast. The play was coming to America and opened in New York in 1987. Living 125 miles from New York City gave me many opportunities to experience Broadway. While Les Miserables became more popular, I went seven times to see the play. I couldn’t get enough of it because being on my own spiritual journey I could sense that this play was a major part of it. The text, along with the melodies, touched my soul. I listened to the tape recording over and over again until it wore out. I also acquired the sheet music so that I could sing and play the haunting melodies. As I revealed in last week’s BLOG, the play celebrated their 10th Anniversary and then the 25th Anniversary. So you could see that I was not alone in being inspired by this story line that made its debut in 1862 from the pen of Victor Hugo. The words that jump out at me are: God, Calvary, Communion, destiny, as well as the last line of the play, “To love another person is to see the face of God.” I ended up cross stitching this phrase for friends on their golf towels and framed wall hangings. It just reiterates the Gospel in the New Testament over and over again.


In John 12:1-11 (Mary Anoints Jesus’ Feet): a lesson in compassion.


Six days before the Passover, Jesus went back to Bethany, where he had raised Lazarus from the dead (v. 1). He had come to Bethany, the city of Martha, Lazarus and Mary were there. He attended a dinner in Simon, the Leper’s home (Mark 14:1-11) (v. 2). Martha, Lazarus and Mary were there. Martha served, Lazarus sat at the table with Jesus and Mary, took a pint of very expensive ointment and anointed the feet of Jesus (v. 3). The perfume was fragrant oil prepared from the roots and stems of an aromatic herb from northern India. It was an expensive perfume, imported in a sealed alabaster boxes or flasks which were opened only on special occasions. Mary’s lavish gift (a pint) expressed her love and thanks to Jesus for Himself and for His restoring Lazarus to life. The house was filled with the fragrance.


A disciple named Judas Iscariot was there; he was the one who was going to betray Jesus (vv. 4-5). Here we see that Judas couldn’t understand. He thought the perfume, which was a year’s wages or perhaps a lifetime of savings, should have been sold and given to the poor. Judas did not really care about the poor (v. 6). He asked this because he was a thief and wanted money for himself secretly and selfishly. Mary was anointing Jesus for his burial and Jesus defended Mary’s act of love. Jesus told Judas to “leave her alone!” He said that she has kept this perfume for the day of his burial (v. 7). He went on to say,

 “You will always have the poor with you, but you won’t always have me” (v. 8). However, the opportunity to show love to me on earth is limited.  He said, “But me, you have not always.” People came to see Jesus and Lazarus because Lazarus had been restored and many Jews believed in Jesus (v. 9). Now the chief priests planned to kill the two men, Jesus and Lazarus (vv. 10-11)!


Now the song from Les Miserables: partial lyrics

At the End of the Day Lyrics 

by Les Miserables Cast
from Les Miserables Soundtrack

[1823, Montreuil-sur-Mer.]
[Outside the factory owned by the Mayor,]
[Monsieur Madeleine (Jean Valjean in disguise).]

At the end of the day you're another day older
And that's all you can say for the life of the poor
It's a struggle, it's a war
And there's nothing that anyone's giving
One more day standing about, what is it for?
One day less to be living.

At the end of the day you're another day colder
And the shirt on your back doesn't keep out the chill
And the righteous hurry past
They don't hear the little ones crying
And the winter is coming on fast, ready to kill
One day nearer to dying!

At the end of the day there's another day dawning
And the sun in the morning is waiting to rise
Like the waves crash on the sand
Like a storm that'll break any second
There's a hunger in the land
There's a reckoning still to be reckoned and
There's gonna be hell to pay
At the end of the day!

[The foreman and workers, including Fantine, emerge from the factory]

At the end of the day you get nothing for nothing
Sitting flat on your butt doesn't buy any bread

There are children back at home

And the children have got to be fed

As Jesus told us, “the poor will always be with us.” If we live the Gospel, we will take this on as our mission in life. For those of us who have been blessed, it is our obligation to support the poor. The more blessings we are given in life, the more obliged we are to give back. Every time you listen to the lyrics, you can’t help but be transformed.  As Victor Hugo states in his book,

“so long as there shall exist, by reason of law and custom, a social condemnation which, in the midst of civilization, artificially creates a hell on earth, and complicates with human fatality a destiny that is divine; so long as the three problems of the century - the degradation of man by the exploitation of his labour, the ruin of women by starvation and the atrophy of childhood by physical and spiritual night are not solved; so long as, in certain regions, social asphyxia shall be possible; in other words and from a still broader point of view, so long as ignorance and misery remain on earth, there should be a need for books such as this.”
― Victor Hugo


“The book the reader has now before his eyes - from one end to the other, in its whole and in its details, whatever the omissions, the exceptions, or the faults - is the march from evil to good, from injustice to justice, from the false to the true, from night to day, from appetite to conscience, from rottenness to life, from brutality to duty, from Hell to Heaven, from nothingness to God. Starting point: matter; goal: the soul. Hydra at the beginning, angel at the end.”
― Victor Hugo, Les Misérables


“A doctor’s door should never be closed, a priest’s door should always be open.”
― Victor Hugo

It is interesting and timely that I am inspired to write this Blog just ten days before we begin Ash Wednesday and the Season of Lent. If you have an opportunity to see the film, please do! The film tells a realistic story of broken dreams, unrequited love, passion, sacrifice and redemption…a timeless testament to the survival of the human spirit. Ex-prisoner JeanValjean, after stealing a loaf of bread, was locked away as a prisoner for years and is hunted for decades but a ruthless policeman, Javert after he breaks his parole. When Valjean agrees to care for factory worker Fantine’s young daughter, Cosette, their lives change forever. The title, Les Miserables doesn’t just translate into being the miserable. It can also mean The Wretched, The Poor Ones, or The Victims. Victor Hugo wanted to give us all of the social issues that we still have today…issues that will never die as long as we have human behavior, temptation, and free will on Earth. What is the difference between living in the year 1862 or living in the year 2013…the same social issues go on and on in the news everyday…murders, robberies, prostitution, injustices that would make you crazy because we all would like to have justice in our lives.

Let me end by giving you the lyrics of the Finale Number that seems to sum up the fact that we will never be poor or left alone in this world if we have God.

My Song du jour:

Finale 2 Lyrics   by Les Miserables Cast
from Les Miserables Soundtrack

Alone, I wait in the shadows
I count the hours
‘Till I can sleep
I dreamed a dream
Cosette stood by
It made her weep
To know I die
Alone, at the end of the day
Upon this wedding night I pray
Take these children, my lord
To thy embrace
And show them grace.
God up high,
Hear my prayer
Take me now
To thy care
Where you are
Let me be
Take me now
Take me there
Bring me home
Bring me home

Monsieur I bless your name

I am ready Fantine!

Monsieur, lay down your burden

At the end of my days

You’ve raised my child with love

She’s the best of my life

And you shall be with God

Papa, papa, I do not understand
Are you all right?
They said you’d gone away

Cosette, my child
Thank god, thank god
I’ve lived to see this day

It’s you who must forgive a thoughtless fool
It’s you who must forgive a thankless man
It’s thanks to you that I am living
Again I lay down my life at your feet
Cosette, your father is a saint
When they wounded me
He took me from the barricade
Carried like a babe
And brought me home
To you

now you are here
Again beside me
now I can die in peace
for now my life is blessed...

You will live, Papa, you're going to live
It's too soon, too soon to say goodbye!

Yes, Cosette, forbid me now to die
I'll obey
I will try.
On this page
I write my last confession
read it well
when I, at last, am sleeping
It's a story
Of one who turned from hating,
A man who only learned to love
When you were in his keeping.

Come with me
Where chains will never bind you
All your grief
At last, at last behind you
Lord in Heaven
Look down on him in mercy.

forgive me all my trespasses
And take me to your glory.

Take my hand
And lead me to salvation
Take my love
For love is everlasting
And remember
The truth that once was spoken
To love another person
Is to see the face of God.

May we all think of these lyrics as we approach next week, LENT 2013.


“That in God all things may be glorified”

Sr. Jo-El McLaughlin, OSB

Art: taken from - lyrics for the songs

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