« When you sing, you're praying twice. »
For Sister Marie Keyrouz, this saying of Saint Basil the Great (one of the Greek Fathers, 6th century) has become the leitmotiv of her life.
A Christian of the East and daughter of Lebanon, Marie Keyrouz has been singing since her childhood 38 years ago in Deir el-Amar, the maronite village where she was brought up. She was 11 when she first answered the call of He who was to become the centre of her life. It was a sudden revelation: the Lord called her through song. Marie then decided to enter religious life. She turned away the young man of 22 who was madly in love with her. He, feeling like dying, threatened to kidnap his lovely Marie, but decided instead to send his father to talk to her.
"My life is no longer my own, you know that," she replied, "my mind is made up." After two days of retreat in prayer and silence, Marie decides to take her vows with the Sisters of Saint Basil, a church of Byzantine rite in union with Rome.
The path chosen by Marie Keyrouz in Eastern Christianity has led her to sing in the principal languages of the prophets and saints. She can sing as well in Arabic as in Syriac, in Greek as in Armenian, in French as in Italian.
Sister Marie has given birth to a new genre and has become equally famous in the West and in the East.
Having been taught the most classical canons of Western music, she now consecrates her talent to Oriental liturgies. Through her repertoire, Sister Marie makes us better able to understand the word spirituality as a long climb towards the sublime. And she shows how much early Western liturgies ressembled those of the East.
The ecumenical voice of Sister Marie Keyrouz can be heard during these World Youth Days by young people from all over the world at the JUBILATIO Prayer Vigil, in the Parc André Citroën in Paris, on Thursday 21 August, starting at 9:00 p.m.
Thanks to the Golden Voice in God's service, young people will be able to experience a moment of sharing, prayer, and hope.
English translation: Paul-Dominique Masiclat, o.p.