‘Brother Joseph, Brother Joseph!’ at Ave Maria Grotto 

Lucienne Randall (left) and Arianna Randall tell the story of St. Bernard Abbey’s Bro. Joseph Sunday afternoon. (W.C. Mann for The Cullman Tribune) 

CULLMAN, Ala. – On Sunday afternoon, artists Ben South and Donna Drake premiered their children’s musical “Brother Joseph, Brother Joseph” in the Ave Maria Grotto park at St. Bernard Abbey. The interactive show paired new lyrics with familiar tunes to share the story of the German monk who built the Grotto. 

The show featured 15yearold Arianna Randall and 11yearold Lucienne Randall telling the audience on the Grotto lawn about Bro. Joseph and the Benedictine monastic life. Arianna, a concert pianist, and Lucienne, a ballerina at Brooke Desoès Ballet Academy, are the children of St. John’s Evangelical Protestant Church Associate Pastor Nate Randall and his wife Lauren Randall. 

Following the program, visitors had an opportunity to visit Bro. Joseph’s actual studio and workshop where he designed and built the pieces displayed in the Grotto park. The workspace, under renovation by South and Drake, is in the process of reopening to become a creative space for artists and crafters. 

South, whose father taught at St. Bernard, visited the abbey many times as a child to watch Bro. Joseph work. He told The Tribune, “What I remember as a kid watching Brother Joseph create his art at Ave Maria Grotto was a broad smile that stretched across his face. He didn’t talk a lot, but he was a joyful, expressive spirit. Today, Ari and Luci Randall fully captured Brother Joseph’s joyfulness when they premiered possibly the world’s first Benedictine rap song ‘Work and Pray.’ The rat-a-tat lyrics are a modernday motto for the hardworking and fervent-praying monks at St. Bernard: ‘Work and pray…work and pray, that was Brother Joseph’s day. Pray and work, work and pray; work, work, work, work…pray, pray, pray.’ 

South said, “I appreciate Ave Maria Grotto director Roger Steele and St. Bernard’s joyful Abbot Marcus Voss on welcoming fresh, 21st century creative people to celebrate the timeless creativity of Brother Joseph, ‘Alabama’s World-Famous Artist.’” 

Following the performance, Donna Drake (right) shows off Bro. Joseph’s studio to a young visitor. (W.C. Mann for The Cullman Tribune) 

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W.C. Mann