Sacred Heart

Album: The Civil Wars (2013)
  • songfacts ®
  • Lyrics
  • Joy Williams and John Paul White of The Civil Wars wrote this song one cold night in a Paris flat, with the Eiffel Tower in full view. Williams recalled: "Tall windows, Victorian furniture, and somehow the atmosphere of all of that seeped into the song. (Her husband) Nate and our friends were there in the room as we wrote, all of us drinking wine together."
  • Williams sings the song in French. She recalled: "I wrote what words I knew in French, and then had a Parisian friend named Renata Pepper (yes, that's her real name) look it over later and help me translate. When we recorded the song for the album, I called in a French professor from Vanderbilt named Becky Peterson, who has now become a good friend."
  • An English translation of the start of the song is:

    "When I walk in the street.
    The street to the Sacred Heart."

    The Sacré-Cœur (Sacred Heart) Basilica is a Roman Catholic church in Paris. It is dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, an increasingly popular vision of a loving and sympathetic Christ. The church was planned in 1873 with the aim of expiating the spiritual and moral collapse of France, which was felt to have led to the defeat of the French by the Prussians. Its location on the summit of the butte Montmartre, ('martyrs mount'), the highest point in the city, was deliberate.
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