Judy Collins - Sisters Of Mercy Lyrics

Oh the sisters of mercy, they are not departed or gone.
They were waiting for me when I thought that I just can't go on.
And they brought me their comfort and later they brought me this song.
Oh I hope you run into them, you who've been travelling so long.

Yes you who must leave everything that you cannot control.
It begins with your family, but soon it comes around to your soul.
Well I've been where you're hanging, I think I can see how you're pinned:
When you're not feeling holy, your loneliness says that you've sinned.

Well they lay down beside me, I made my confession to them.
They touched both my eyes and I touched the dew on their hem.
If your life is a leaf that the seasons tear off and condemn
They will bind you with love that is graceful and green as a stem.

When I left they were sleeping, I hope you run into them soon.
Don't turn on the lights, you can read their address by the moon.
And you won't make me jealous if I hear that they sweetened your night:
We weren't lovers like that and besides it would still be all right,
We weren't lovers like that and besides it would still be all right.

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Judy Collins Sisters Of Mercy Comments
  1. edclark65

    Such a wonderful song, such a wonderful voice.

  2. Joe Offer

    Many of the Sisters of Mercy were English teachers. They would tell you not to use an apostrophe to spell "Sisters of Mercy." Sorry, but 16 years of Catholic education forced me to tell you that.... ;-)


    Thanks! Grammar is important!

    Gordon Burns

    You don't need to be catholic to be grammatically correct... in fact you are very far from the truth!

    Per leonard cohen (1979):

    "The Sisters Of Mercy were actually two young women that I met during a snow storm in Edmonton, Alberta. And they came to my Hotel Room and there was something oh, very agreeable about their company. And they had no place to stay and they fell asleep on my bed, and I stayed up and I remember there was a full moon. And I felt like having something to say to them when they woke up, and that was one of those rare and graceful occasions when I was able to write a song from beginning to end in the space of a few hours. And while they slept I worked on this song. And when they woke up I sang it to them. It was completely full and finished, and they liked it. Barbara and Lorraine were their names."

    Joe Offer

    Gordon Burns - logical error there. Of course you don't have to be Catholic to be grammatically correct, but Catholic schools do a good job of teaching grammar - and logic. My saying something good about one thing, does not mean I'm saying something bad about another.

    James Tidwell

    I hear you. Same here.

    James Tidwell

    @Joe Offer agree. some people will take any opportunity to exercise their bigotry by twisting what someone else says and then throws a derrogatore slur at them for good measure Catholic Schools are a major cut above the rest. You are on the nail. Of course Joe, you are not at all far from the truth. Gordon just threw that in to further insult you and throw salt into the wound. He's an ignorant Protestant troll.

  3. Suzanne Huffman

    No apostrophe, whoever posted this. Ms Collins is one of the most literate artists of the past 60 years or so. Let's us honor her in all ways.

    Gordon Burns

    Sister's...? WRONG!

    James Tidwell

    @Gordon Burns correct. Sisters is plural and not possesive.

  4. mary hite

    Powerful lyrics. Adieu Leonard Cohen. You will live on through your work.

  5. stanggirl70

    Such a beautiful song that brings back memories of my deceased mother, who was an enormous fan of Judy's music. And today we hear the terrible news that Leonard Cohen has passed.

    Gordon Burns

    He hasn't 'passed'... he died... let's dispose of the epithets!

  6. Madeleine Hague

    RIP, Leonard Cohen. Just got the news. What a wonderful, creative life, what a legacy.

  7. Brsbeach

    Depressing? I have always found it to be beautifully uplifting...

  8. hereandnow

    Its about giving in to life. 
    "everything you cannot control - it begins with your family, and later turns round to your soul"
    We try to control events or people because life is full of uncertainty and sometimes pain, but the song describes the sweetness there is as well in life.
    About seeking comfort at the lowest point, and finding it. 
    Written by someone who's "been there" and found their way back.

    This song was with me at Uni, the first LP I bought, but I understand it better now

    Gordon Burns

    What bollocks!

  9. Robert Fitzgibbon

    Thanks for posting this. A sweet, comforting song - not terribly depressing, like many of Cohen's songs. Have enjoyed it since the teen years...


    not depressing?  I see it as very depressing.  leonard cohen was probably VERY depressed when he wrote it.  if anything, it's about dealing with depression.  what it's about may be ambiguous (a religious experience, a one night stand, whatever).  in any case, it's the story of one episode in the life of a man or woman dealing with depression.  dealing with existence, really.  existence in a meaningless universe.  perhaps the song details a temporary respite from depression, yet the depression both proceeds the events of the song and follows them.  leonard cohen isn't in denial.  he KNOWS where it's at. (and Collins probably does as well.   cohen has stared into the abyss and the abyss has stared back at him....

    Don Herman

    I couldn't disagree more.  I see it as a very hopeful song.  

    Gunnar Thorsen

    @jonbecker03 Sadness may be alluded to, but the lyrics overall point to quiet joy and contentment, which can come from unlikely places, and which - like all things in life, are fleeting in nature. In this instance, that source of happiness is the embrace of prostitutes, which Cohen describes in an almost sacramental manner. A fine line separates the spiritual from the carnal, the mundane from the divine, and suffering from grace. Whether singing of hookers as "sisters of mercy", or of priests who God has kept from the "dance", or of Saint Joan of Arc giving Fire her "body to hold", or of Jesus watching from His "lonely wooden tower", Cohen in that regards is clear. Life isn't totally good - OR bad. Both are intertwined, both can teach us, both touch on mystery and the sacred, and both can lead to an experience of redemption - of one kind or another.

    Don Herman

    The line between "holiness" and "sin" is far finer than we imagine.