Soeur Sourire – Dominique Lyrics Translation

Image credit: Priscila Sherlyn, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Soeur Sourir or “The Singing Nun”

Dominique song background

Dominique” (pronounced dɔminik) is one of the most famous French songs of all time. The song was written and released in 1963 by Belgian nun and singer Jeanne-Paule Marie Deckers (1933-1985), also known as Sœur Sourire (pronounced sœʀ suʀiʀ) or The Singing Nun.

The song lyrics were translated into English by Noël Regney as well as many other languages including Spanish, Italian, German, Dutch, Hebrew and Japanese (see video below). The song went strait to the top of the charts all over the world.

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French Learner offers an extensive amount of content covering lyrics to classic French songs including La Vie En Rose and Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien (by Edith Piaf), C’est Si bon and Les Feuilles Mortes (by Yves Montand), Ne Me Quitte Pas and The Port of Amsterdam (by Jacques Brel), La Bohème (by Charles Aznavour), La Mer (Charles Trenet) and Les Champs Elysées (by Joe Dassin). More recent songs include Alors On Danse and Papaoutai (by Stomae) and Dernière Danse (by Indilia).

Deckers was a member of the Dominican Order, an order of the Catholic church. The song “Dominique” commemorates Saint Dominic, the Spanish priest who founded the Dominican Order.

Deckers died by suicide at the age of fifty-one along side her best friend, Annie Pécher.

Soeur Sourire Dominique Lyrics Ttranslation

Dominique lyrics analysis

In the following section we have hand-selected lines which we believe help students to further their learning about French vocabulary and grammar.

Dominique -nique -nique

In the first line of the chorus, “Dominique” refers to Saint Dominic, the founder of the Dominican Order.

S’en allait tout simplement

This line translates to “Went about simply”. “S’en aller” can translate to “to leave” and is a reflexive from of aller, which means to to.

Routier, pauvre et chantant

This line translates to “A poor singing traveler”. In French, “un routier” translates to truck driver. In the context of the song Dominique, Saint Dominic is referred to as a “routier” or traveler.

En tous chemins, en tous lieux

This line translates to “On every road, in every place”. The word “chemin” means way, path or road. Lieu means place. Another word for place is endroit.

Il ne parle que du Bon Dieu

This line translates to “He only speaks of Good God”. Other translation of the song offer the translation, “He only speaks of the Lord”. The ne…que construction is a negation form that means “only”.

Dominique notre père, combattit les albigeois

This line translates to “Our father Dominique was fighting the Albigensians”. “Combattit” is the passé simple (a literary past tense) form of the verb combattre, which means to fight.

“Les albigeois” refers the Albigensians, a group of religious heretics from the 12th and 13th century.

Certains jours un hérétique, Par des ronces le conduit, Mais notre Père Dominique, par sa joie le convertit

These three lines translate to “Certain days a heretic, Drove him in the brambles, But our Father Dominic, through joy converted him”.

The word “ronce” translates to brambles or prickly blackberry bushes. This, we believe symbolizes being astray from the Catholic doctrines of the time period.

“Convertit” is the passé simple (literary past) of the verb convertir (to convert).

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

This line translates to “Not by camel, not by stagecoach, Not by camel, not by stagecoach, He traveled through Europe on foot, Scandinavia or Provence, in sainty poverty”.

Interestingly, “une diligence” translates to stagecoach. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, a diligence is a synonym for stage coach.

“Parcourt” comes from the verb parcourir, which means to travel, cross, wander, roam and to go all over.

Provence, or “la Provence” refers to a region in the south-east of France.

Enflamma de toute école, Filles et garçons pleins d’ardeur, Et pour semer la parole, inventa les Frères-Prêcheurs

We translated these lines to the following: “Impassioning the entire school, Boys and girls full of fervor, To spread the word, the Dominican Order came about”.

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“Enflamma” is the passe simple (literary past) of the verb enflammer, which has translations including “to light” or “to impassion”.

The verb semer means to sow, as in sow seeds. However, we believe that in a figurative sense it means to spread, as in spread the gospel.

The Frères-Prêcheurs refers to the Dominican Order, which Saint Dominic (or “Dominique”) founded.

Chez Dominique et ses frères, Le pain s’en vint à manquer, Et deux anges se présentèrent, portant de grands pains dorés

These three lines translate to “At the home of Dominique and his brothers, Break was starting to lack, And two angels showed up, bringing golden loaves”.

“S’en vint” is the passé simple (literary past) of the verb s’en venir, which translates literally to “to be coming” or “to be on the way”. Hence, our loose translation was “starting to”.

The verb manquer has many usages and translation including both “to miss: and “to lack”.

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

This verse translates to “Saint Dominic lives in a dream, Preachers from all over the world, Under the mantel of the Virgin, gather together in great numbers”.

We believe that by saying “Dominique vit en rêve” (Saint Dominic lives in a dream), Deckers was emphasizing that Saint Dominic remains the spiritual father or teacher of the Dominican movement.

Dominique, mon bon Père, Garde-nous simples et gais, Pour annoncer à nos frères, la vie et la vérité

This last verse translates to “”Dominique, my good Father, Keep us simple and happy, to announce to our brothers, life and truth”.

We believe that main message of this song is both to give praise to Saint Dominic and to highlight his spiritual message of light and truth.

Image credit: Jl FilpoC, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Saint Dominic inspired the song “Dominique” by The Singing Nun

Dominique French Lyrics & English Translation

Dominique -nique -nique
S’en allait tout 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

Saint Dominic
Went about simply
A poor singing traveler
On every road, in every place
He only speaks of Good God
He only speaks of Good God

À l’époque où Jean Sans Terre
D’Angleterre était le roi
Dominique notre père, combattit les albigeois

At the time when Johnny Lackland
From England was king
Our father Dominique was fighting the Albigensians

Dominique -nique -nique
S’en allait tout 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

Saint Dominic
Went about simply
A poor singing traveler
On every road, in every place
He only speaks of Good God
He only speaks of Good God

Certains jours un hérétique
Par des ronces le conduit
Mais notre Père Dominique, par sa joie le convertit

Certain days a heretic
Drove him in the brambles
But our Father Dominic, through joy converted him

Dominique -nique -nique
S’en allait tout 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

Saint Dominic
Went about simply
A poor singing traveler
On every road, in every place
He only speaks of Good God
He only speaks of Good God

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

Not by camel, not by stagecoach
He traveled through Europe on foot
Scandinavia or Provence, in sainty poverty

Dominique -nique -nique
S’en allait tout 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

Saint Dominic
Went about simply
A poor singing traveler
On every road, in every place
He only speaks of Good God
He only speaks of Good God

Enflamma de toute école
Filles et garçons pleins d’ardeur
Et pour semer la parole, inventa les Frères-Prêcheurs

Impassioning the entire school
Boys and girls full of fervor
To spread the word, the Dominican Order came about

Dominique -nique -nique
S’en allait tout 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

Saint Dominic
Went about simply
A poor singing traveler
On every road, in every place
He only speaks of Good God
He only speaks of Good God

Chez Dominique et ses frères
Le pain s’en vint à manquer
Et deux anges se présentèrent, portant de grands pains dorés

At the home of Dominique and his brothers
Break was starting to lack
And two angels showed up, bringing golden loaves

Dominique -nique -nique
S’en allait tout 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

Saint Dominic
Went about simply
A poor singing traveler
On every road, in every place
He only speaks of Good God
He only speaks of Good God

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

Saint Dominic lives in a dream
Preachers from all over the world
Under the mantel of the Virgin, gather together in great numbers

Dominique -nique -nique
S’en allait tout 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

Saint Dominic
Went about simply
A poor singing traveler
On every road, in every place
He only speaks of Good God
He only speaks of Good God

Dominique, mon bon Père
Garde-nous simples et gais
Pour annoncer à nos frères, la vie et la vérité

Dominique, my good Father
Keep us simple and happy
to announce to our brothers, life and truth

Dominique -nique -nique
S’en allait tout 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

Saint Dominic
Went about simply
A poor singing traveler
On every road, in every place
He only speaks of Good God
He only speaks of Good God

Listen to the song Dominique on YouTube and Spotify

The following YouTube video of The Singing Nun singing Dominique has over seven million views.

The following video contains 17 translated versions of Dominique with lyrics in languages including Spanish, German, Italian, Dutch, Hebrew and Japanese.

Listen to Dominique using Spotify:

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About David Issokson

David Issokson is a lifelong language enthusiast. His head is swimming with words and sounds as he speaks over six languages. Of all the languages he speaks, he's the most passionate about French! David has helped hundreds of students to improve their French in his private online lessons. When procrastinating working on his site, FrenchLearner.com, David enjoys his time skiing and hiking in Teton Valley, Idaho.

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