Weddings are moments of celebration and revelation.

On that day, many will learn that the couple has a piece of music they call “their song.” And, for the first time as a couple, they will dance to their song before all present. Through their song all will know them on a deeper level.

When the Dominican Sisters of Hope sealed their union as a new congregation of Dominican apostolic women, on July 20, 1995, we had a song.

It was a song written for us. The title of the song was “Rivers” and it was written and sung by singer/songwriter, Carolyn Mc Dade.

The words and music came from Carolyn’s experience of us as she contemplated what we had done when we said, “Yes” and committed ourselves to living a new future together, to be preachers of the Gospel for the sake of the world.

We were too new in our commitment to grasp fully the step we were taking. Temporary blindness usually accompanies new love! Carolyn wove a magic of words about the union of our three communities and spirits, past histories and future hopes. She situated the entire opus in the cyclic movement of the seasons of earth, the journeys of the stars, the call of the cosmos. The majestic unfolding of nature in its goodness and an unknown future were calling us. Hidden within it were the seeds of what we call today the “New Cosmology.” And, in this cosmology, we began to embrace an evolving theology.

Over these past 25 years, we would embrace a new mission statement. We made commitments to human dignity and ecological sustainability. They took the form of corporate statements we would publicly commit ourselves to championing, such as immigration reform and the impact of climate change, or publicly condemning, such as the Death Penalty, the Iraq War, and human trafficking.

We knew that one does not travel this road alone. Collaboration with other Dominican communities and other entities naturally occurred.

Our song speaks of our encounters with the Divine as we acknowledge that the Divine presence permeates all aspects of cosmic life and all experiences of pain and joy we may be having personally. “Preacher” would be our name and preaching in all its forms would be the air that revives us and moves us forward to serve others.

It’s good to remember our common song. Better even, to sing it. In this anniversary year, we sing it as a prayer because of who we still are striving to become.

We’re happy to share the words of our song and, a sung rendition of it, for your future contemplation of what is a bottomless well of faith and hope to which we all can return again and again. Feel free to join your voice with ours!

Listen here:


by Carolyn McDade


O Rivers gathered of streams

Flowing down through the valleys.

Rains out of an ancient sea,

Fall, turning a prophecy,

spring, thawing to rush,


renews the land.


O Living Waters

Grace washing the soul.

Cities stirring and hills verdant

As hope, rumbling through pain,

Comes reviving the dream again.

Come, we a mingling of streams,

Gathered of generations.

Born unto a sacred earth


Dying, we shall know rebirth.

Faith deep in our lives


A love that frees.


O Passion Eternal

ever burning flame

O Radiant Planet

whirling on

true to the stars

in a vow

sung in the tongue of Earth.


Our way to journey among

People cast to the edges

Women, shall their fullness be.

Laden shall arise be free

All blessed we rise


In a fearless dawn.


O Bountiful Goodness,

truth and mercy shall meet,

Live as we must live,

Where we must be

faithful and free

To the Gospel

of a boundless whole.


Go, sisters,

renewed from this day

Held and holding a promise

O, wisdom without within

Shine freeing our love to bend

with meanings that dream

deep in our common way.

Go, Blessings go with you

Dare though trials abound.

This day a reminder

That the banks bordering streams

‘neath the waters, abide as one.


Come Sisters of Promise,

Go Sisters of Hope.

Turning in Earth’s revelation

Breath of old breathing anew

As the love in this life rolls on.


My love for you I sing

My life to you I bring my all

in all…with you …my sisters of Hope.


Come Sisters of Promise

Go Sisters of Hope

Turning in Earth’s revelation

Breath of old breathing anew

As the love in this life rolls on.


“Rivers” ~ written for the Sisters of Hope Words and music by Carolyn McDade ©1995 by Carolyn McDade All Rights Reserved – Used by permission of the composer.

This audio version is sung by Deborah Kelly, Litchfield, CT. Piano accompaniment; Rosemarie Greco, DW, Litchfield, CT.

At 3 pm on July 20, 1995 the Dominican Sisters of Hope were founded. On July 20, 2019, we began our 25th year since our founding. We declare a YEAR OF HOPE! In celebration, we will share a reflection on the 20th of every month. This is the eleventh reflection in this series. Read all reflections here.

This reflection was written by

Dominican Sister of Hope Jo-Ann Iannotti, OP

Jo-Ann Iannotti, OP is a Dominican Sister of Hope, recently retired as Art and Spirituality Coordinator at Wisdom House Retreat and Conference Center in Litchfield, CT. Jo-Ann is a poet and photographer. She is a native of Paterson, New Jersey. She holds an M. A. in Theology from Fordham University, Bronx, NY. Jo-Ann lectures frequently on the 14th Century English mystic, Julian of Norwich, as well as the inter-relationship between art and spirituality. She is the author of Remember, Return, Rejoice: Journeying from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday.