Tuesday, 15 August 2006

Heretical Hymns

While surfing the net this evening (well, ok, it was late when I got in, so it's been more of a brief paddle) I came across the following interesting little snippet from George Weigel (I presume it is the same George Weigel as wrote the biography of John Paul II) on the importance of the hymns we sing... if we are actually going to sing hymns at all.

I know one or two people who would prefer to get rid of all hymns and just stick to Gregorian chant and I have to confess that I am not one of them... but I do like my hymns to be rooted in solid theology, and to have a reasonable melody... and the language has to be poetic (if it's in the vernacular.)

I didn't recognise all the hymns George mentioned (I presume they're American "favourites") but I rather liked his idea about a 50-year ban on the hymns that, while not bad in themselves, have been played and sung to death... I would add "especially in schools" to that, because there only seem to be a handful which are trotted out with painful regularity.

I especially loathe "Here I am, Lord" (if it's played at the wrong speed it can be teeth-achingly bad) "I am the Bread of Life" (especially the PC version, which just clunks) and "Walk in the Light" (ouch !)

So, any other hymns we should expunge from our parish hymn books?


DP said...

Sing to the Mountains
Why are we singing to the mountains and the sea when Jesus is present in the Tabernacle and on the Altar? How about sing to Jesus?

I am the Bread of Life
I am the Resurrection
I will sweep away your transgressions
I am neither the Bread of Life, nor the Resurrection, nor am I capable of sweeping away your transgressions so I don't know why I have to sing these silly songs in the presence of the one who is the Bread of Life and the Resurrection, and who will sweep away your transgressions. I agree with George Weigel. Get rid of all the I am God/I am Jesus songs. I find these incredibly frustrating. Also included in this list are
- You are Mine
- Alleluia, I will Come
- Return to Me
- This is my Body
- I Will Never Forget You

I have no problem with more modern hymns so long as they are theologically correct and don't distract from the liturgy.

That being said, one of my pet peeves is whenever Tantum Ergo, O Salutaris,O Sanctissima, Ubi Caritas, Veni Creator, Adoro Te Devote, Salve Regina, Ave Maria, Pange Lingua, etc... are sung in English. I'm no Latin buff and don't even attend Latin Mass regularly, but can we at least just keep these in Latin?

Ok, that's enough of my rant.

FatherTF said...

"Especially in schools" also because the hymns people remember from their schooldays are the ones they request for their wedding. I would love to see a permanent ban on:
Colours of Day
I watch the sunrise
Lord of the Dance
Walk with me O my Lord
Follow me (follow me, leave your home and famaleeee)

These are only the worst of the 1970s "20th Century Folk Hymnal" era. The ones Weigel is complaining about are not as bad as these.

I have banned the regular heretical ones such as Gifts of Bread and Wine ("I am with you for all time / I am with you in this bread and wine"), My God loves me ("He comes to me / in sharing bread and wine" - to the tune of Plaisir d'amour) and Fill my house ("... eat my bread and drink my wine")

Sadly, in schools, excellence is sought after in music, dance and drama - except for liturgical music. Many of our secondary schools (and some primaries) could get up a choir to sing Gregorian chant or polyphony. The children would be proud to do it and the reputation of the school would benefit.

But no - we have "If I were a butterfly" or the "clap clap Gloria" instead.

Anonymous said...

Here I am Lord
Go, the Mass is Ended
Bind us Together
God's Spirit is in My Heart

And on Sunday we were given a new style hymn to sing to the tune of 'Praise to the Lord the Almighty, the King of Creation' - which I remember in all its magisterial grandeur from my days at a Protestant school. I know it is pompous of me, but I sang the old words instead, realising I could remember a decent chunk of them. I suppose it was very un-Catholic of me to go my own way and normally I don't do that sort of thing. Oh and we also had 'God's Spirit is in my heart' which I really loathe. After Mass I snorted to no one in particular that it is cruel folly to 'tell blind people that they can see' - to my shame, a number of people overheard this but they all agreed. Generally our PP chooses good hymns but I suppose he feels he should appeal to everyone. It's a tough task being a PP.

Mulier Fortis said...

Yup, I think you've managed between you to hit all the hymns I find most objectionable - either because of lyrics or the banal "tune" (which doesn't deserve to be called a "melody"... time to produce a traddy hymn book, I think!

Mulier Fortis said...

Clare, I also take great delight in belting out the "proper" lyrics to hymns which have been made politically correct - though I can only do this if I already know the original versions!

Anonymous said...

Here Am I Lord is the homosexual theme song written by a former priest who is not living with his partner in California.


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