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Sunday, March 2, 2014

Celebrating National Women's History Month - Agatha Louise Pfeiffer, Musician and Composer

Mater Admirabilis Statue
originally located at the Convent of the Sacred Heart (Hilltop) - St. Joseph , MO
the statue is now at Woodlands Academy of the Sacred Heart - Lake Forest, IL

During the month of March the National Women's History Project will be celebrating Women of Character, Courage & Commitment.  The NWHP "will honor the extraordinary and often unrecognized determination and tenacity of women".  

I'd like to personally honor a Sacred Heart alumna who wrote a song about Mater Admirabilis. 

Agatha Louise Pfeiffer (January 1, 1879 - June 1975) an alumna of the Convent of the Sacred Heart (known as "Hilltop" due to its location) in St. Joseph, Missouri was a teacher, musician and composer. Agatha played the organ at St. Francis Xavier church in her hometown of St. Joseph and for many weddings her song "O Mother Will It Always Be" was sung. 
"Pfeiffer's compositions included "Sacred Music" and "Piano Studies for Children", published by G. Schirmer, New York. Copies of Pfeiffer's music which are in the archives of the Women Writers Along the Rivers project include:  'All Spotless Heart', 'Bright Queen of Heaven', 'O Mother of Mercy', 'O Mother Will It Always Be', 'Our Lovely Queen of May', 'Raise Your Voices', 'Virgin Mother'."
From: Women Wtiters Along the Rivers 1850-1950

The statue of Mater Admirabilis (above) is the inspiration for Miss Pfeiffer's song "O Mother Will It Always Be".  A plaque next to the statue which is now located at Woodlands Academy of the Sacred Heart in Lake Forest, Illinois reads as follows:

The restoration of Mater
Is a gift to Woodlands Academy
in honor of Gwen Gregory-Conzelman
and in memory of her mother,
Gwen Wheelock Lobus

The work is made possible by gifts from family,
students, and friends.

It honors the special devotion to Mater
Shared by Gwen and her mother.

This statue is very precious as it was
Sent from France by
St. Madeleine Sophie Barat
for the opening of the school in
St. Joseph Missouri in 1854

It was then sent to Woodlands when the
St. Joseph school closed in the late 1950’s

          O Mother Will It Always Be

O Mother will it always be 
That every passing year
Will make thee seem more beautiful, 
Will make thee grow more dear?

How near to God, how dear to God, 
Dear Mother thou must be –

We scarce can raise our hearts to Him, 
Unless we think of thee. 

O Mother thou art fair to see, 
More fair than starry night, 
Thy radiance is a tender beam 
From God’s own heav’nly light 

Ah this we know, how true it is 
That every passing year 
Will make thee seem more beautiful, 
Will make thee grow more dear 

All pure, all good, all sinless thou, 
Beyond mere human keen 

All tender and all pitying, 
Toward us, frail sons of men 

The more we seek to know thy heart, 
The more there is to learn – 
Like thee to be most rich in grace, 
We pray and hope and yearn

Written by Agatha Louise Pfeiffer

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