Accompanying each video for Bishop W. Shawn McKnight’s Year of St. Joseph novena is an original prayer, cast in music by Edina native Natalie Clark.
It’s called “Joseph.”
The simple words and melody flow like a lullaby and repeat like a mediaeval chant.
“I tried to keep the lyrics as simple as I could and just be able to pray them,” said Ms. Clark, a lifelong member of St. Joseph Parish in Edina and current student at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas.
She had St. Joseph on her heart for several months before Pope Francis dedicated the present year to him.
“It might have had something to do with the COVID quarantine,” she stated, “but something led me to have this strong devotion to St. Joseph and overwhelming love for him.”
She noted that he is often relegated to the background of the Christ story, due in no small part to his being married to the Blessed Mother, saint of all saints and mother of the Messiah.
“But the whole idea that Jesus had two parents on this planet,” said Ms. Clark, “there is so much there for us to honor and emulate.”
She contacted a handful of friends and relatives and asked them to send her a few thoughts about St. Joseph.
“I was overcome with this overwhelming plethora of tributes that came back,” she said.
Madison Rial, a friend who served with her on a “Totus Tuus” youth mission team in this diocese last summer, contributed several key reflections.
“Out of all of that, this tribute to St. Joseph kind of exploded,” said Ms. Clark.
Her father, Jim Clark, who serves as a music director and accompanist at St. Joseph Church in Edina, heard her singing one of the verses and joined in with guitar accompaniment.
“We often talk about the magic of our living room and sitting together and being able to just do music,” she said.
With that, her simple prayer of intercession became a song.
One of her favorite phrases in the composition is, “You carve faith in our hearts without saying a word.”
She noted that none of St. Joseph’s words are recorded in Scripture.
“I love that. His silence,” she said. “It’s fascinating to me that he can instill this steadfast and beautiful faith in us without saying a word.”
Many people heard “Joseph” for the first time in February when Ms. Clark joined her mother, Kyle Clark, in a “Reflections from Within” meditation video for the diocesan Women’s Ministry. (player.vimeo.com/video/511398763)
Mr. and Mrs. Clark recently traveled to Atchison to spend a weekend with Ms. Clark and to record the version of the song that will be heard on each of the nine novena videos from parishes in the diocese.
Ms. Clark said people who listen to the song have been helping her discover new things within it.
“I’m now convinced that it’s not us as all; it’s the Holy Spirit,” she said. “True art and beauty are from God, and as such, they affect everyone differently.”
She said her experience of growing closer to St. Joseph through this creative process makes her want to do the same with other saints.
“They were all like us at one point,” she stated. “Just as we have relationships with the people on earth, we should have relationships with the people in heaven, and I find this to be a really incredible way to develop that.”