Friday, 20 August 2010

O Sing to the Lord an Old Song ...

Sorry to contradict Psalm 96, but just this once ... Now that the music has been announced for the Hyde Park vigil, can I say first of all how glad I am that they're not going to sing "Our God Reigns". Back in 1982, I was very soon reduced to turning the television volume down to mute.

Certain tunes have a habit of lodging in one's head, and even when it's a good one, enough is as good as a feast. We have been watching the daily repeats of The Onedin Line, and the Spartacus theme has been haunting our brains. Yesterday, thanks to YouTube, I heard for the first time the famous worship song Shine, Jesus, Shine. It has been floating through my head ever since, even this morning in Waitrose. I must find some other music to listen to, to drive it out.

Now for a non-expert review of it. I thought the tune was quite pleasant. I could imagine swaying about and waving my arms in the air, if I were inclined to attend the more charismatic kind of Mass or service of praise. The combination of music and lyrics is warm and emotional, both of which feelings have a place in our love of God.

There were some good points about the lyrics. They refer to the awesomeness of God. They are trinitarian. They recall St John's words about Christ, the Word, as the light shining in the darkness. They bring to mind Christ's words that "the truth will set you free". "Blaze, Spirit, blaze" reminds me of the Holy Spirit coming down as tongues of fire. The flowing river makes me think of Luke 4:14: "The water that I shall give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life". The last verse says "May our lives tell your story", which is very much a statement of "let's get out there and give witness" - which is good.

I think its limitation is that it stays within the range of belief which the Catholic Church shares with the average evangelical Protestant. The glorious patrimony of Catholic chant, and of our hymns - even the more sentimental ones - teaches these good things and so much more; because it draws on the Christian faith in its fullness.

Some months ago - for a reason which I have now forgotten - I borrowed a hymn book from church for a couple of days, and went through the index, writing down the titles of those hymns whose words and tunes I particularly like. I came across this list only yesterday, and it was lovely to read it again; it lifted my heart as the old favourites, with their touching words and sweet melodies, came flooding back. Leaving aside for the present the beautiful hymns to our Lady, here are just a few:

Hail, Redeemer
Crown Him with many crowns
Alleluia, sing to Jesus
To Jesus' Heart, all burning
Jesus, my Lord, my God, my all
Soul of my Saviour

Now for a tentative suggestion for the vigil. There may be opportunities for small groups to take advantage of the occasional hiatus to sing, quietly but noticeably, one or two of the fine old Catholic hymns, or a piece of Gregorian chant such as the Salve Regina. It may be that the hearts of those who hear them will be moved and attracted by what they hear. One never knows ...


JARay said...

Since you have posted a few hymns from your list of favourites, may I suggest?;-
Lord of all hopefulness, Lord of all joy....115 in the Divine Office.
Faith of our fathers
Now thank we all our God
For all the saints who from their labours rest


Dorothy said...

Yes, JAR - lovely! There are such riches available to us, and so nourishing for the soul.

pattif said...

I suppose 'God Bless Our Pope' would have been too much to ask....

Dorothy said...

Yes, Pattif, wouldn't that have been wonderful!