Songs You May Have Missed #369


Michael Smith: “Sister Clarissa” (1992)

smithMichael Peter Smith was once called by Rolling Stone magazine “The greatest songwriter in the English language”. I don’t think a compliment as towering as that needs my little crumb of assent on top.

But I will say that, having attended Catholic school for eight years back when nuns were fierce and formidable, this lyric flat-out nails it for me–nothing is sadder at eight years of age than that knot in your stomach on the first day of the school year when somehow you know summer’s over

Sister Clarissa could have been on the stage
But Jesus came over & told her
He’d rather she taught the fifth grade
Sister Clarissa is engaged to Our Lord
He has promised to take her to heaven
He never goes back on His word
Sister Clarissa is eleven feet tall
Her rosary hangs & it clatters & it clangs
When she moves down the hall
She writes Sister Clarissa up high on the board
The chalk won’t dare squeak
The children sit meekly without a word
Somehow you know summer’s over.

Who made me?
God made me
To know Him
To love Him
To serve Him in this world
And to be happy with Him

Sister Clarissa believes in free will
The communion of saints
The forgiveness of sins
And a quiet fire drill
And when she hugs you
She hugs you too tight
And she gives you a star on the forehead
For spelling Connecticut right


Many years later on a memory walk
Through the old wooden doors
Down the same corridors
Dusted with years of chalk
You see Sister Clarissa
And she looks just the same
And the sound of her rosary still brings a chill
And she remembers your name
And the years disappear
As though they’ve never been
And you hear yourself saying
Yes Sister
No Sister
Like you were ten
And you’re so glad to see
That she’s still the same way
And to tell her you love her
Before she goes over to
Her Fiance


See also:

See also:

3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Rose
    Mar 22, 2013 @ 08:50:26

    Chilling and beautiful.


  2. Trackback: Songs You May Have Missed #512 | Ed Cyphers

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