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Monday, October 29, 2007

BlogPoll: Final Results.

The hymn that makes you want to charge the cantor with levelled pitchfork and torch ablaze:


Gather Us In
39 (31%)

Sing a New Church
20 (16%)

I Myself Am The Bread Of Life
36 (28%)

Gift of Finest Wheat
13 (10%)

17 (13%)

Here I Am Lord
22 (17%)

On Eagle's Wings
18 (14%)

10 (8%)

Total Votes: 125


Far be it from me to dispute the vox populi, but: WRONG, WRONG, WRONG.

1. Familiarity has bred a strong contempt, it seems. As wearyingly banal and overplayed as it is, Gather Us In is far from the worst of the lot. It should instill resignation, not rioting.

"Give us the courage to endure this song...." Gather Us In is to Ordinary Time what The Chicken Dance is to American wedding receptions: a grating but survivable inevitability. As far as music goes, it's somewhat serviceable. It needs a lyricectomy, byt it's hardly alone.

2.-3. Also in the Mostly Harmless category: On Eagle's Wings and Gift of Finest Wheat. Running the lyrical gamut from Meh to Eh. OK, I Guess, these songs are nuked by Muzaky arrangements that suggest they are going straight to an elevator near you. Thought experiment: considered solely as instrumentals, they could be used as atmospherics in commercials by Caring Insurers/Bankers/Tobacco Companies.

4. Of a neither fish nor fowl variety is Here I Am, Lord. It could actually work reasonably well if you forced the cantor, and the cantor alone, to be the Voice of God. "Y'all kindly handle the refrain, folks."

Instead, the Church of Overly-Stroked Ego gets to indulge in a little pantheism--just what we all don't need more of.

Now on to the Most Wanted List, in inverse order of hideousness:

4. Anthem. As the beer commercial famously noted, "there's no 'we' in team." But there are no less than 17 "We's" in Anthem. Join us--we are question! The few, the proud, the quizzical.

3. Sing a New Church. Magnificent tune (lifted from the cosmically-superior Church of God, Elect and Glorious). But the lyrics manage the difficult trick of wedding sedevacantism to the bromides of a mandatory seminar on multiculturalism:

Summoned by the God who made us
rich in our diversity
Gathered in the name of Jesus,
richer still in unity.

Refrain: Let us bring the gifts that differ
and, in splendid, varied ways,
sing a new church into being,
one in faith and love and praise.

Radiant risen from the water,
robed in holiness and light,
male and female in God's image,
male and female, God's delight.


Trust the goodness of creation;
trust the Spirit strong within.
Dare to dream the vision promised,
sprung from seed of what has been.


Bring the hopes of every nation;
bring the art of every race.
Weave a song of peace and justice;
let it sound through time and space.


Draw together at one table,
all the human family;
shape a circle ever wider
and a people ever free

Yes, I know the standard defense: "It's a metaphor."

Here's the thing: it's a crappy metaphor with a room-temperature ecclesiology. Do over.

2. Hosea. Ten (10) votes. Obviously, you people have never (1) heard this one, or (2) read the biblical book after which this one is allegedly titled. Frankly, I call Hosea "Jacques." Why?

Why not? First, the relationship between the lyrics and the title works just as well. Second, Levon was already taken.

Come back to me with all your heart
Don’t let fear keep us apart
Trees do bend though straight and tall
So must we to others call

Refrain: Long have I waited for
Your coming home to me
And living deeply our new life

The wilderness will lead you
To your heart where I will speak
Integrity and justice
With tenderness you shall know


You shall sleep secure with peace
Faithfulness will be your joy

God help us, Refrain

Here's the actual book of Hosea. Synopsis for cradle Catholics: God commissions the Prophet Hosea to call out Israel as the ho she is, a sleazy wearer of push-up bras for Ba'al. No, I'm really not exaggerating. Very specific, explicit threats of judgment for this rotten behavior follow. How in the name of the Almighty the lyricist distilled the above out of the text of Hosea is an even greater mystery than the Trinity. Imagine a prophet of Israel actually trying to call the Chosen People to repentance using the lyrics. He'd be the guy after the Michael Palin in the prophet's row scene in Life of Brian.

Chuck in a syrupy tune that resolutely defies instruments starchier than the piccolo and Hosea is one for the Hall of Horrors. As in, shelve the hymnal and watch the pattern of the ceiling fans.

1. Bread of Life by Rory Cooney. Kudos to 28% of you.

I myself am the bread of life
You and I are the bread of life
Taken and blessed
Broken and shared by Christ
That the world might live

This bread is spirit
Gift of the maker's love
And we who share it
Know that we can be one
A living sign of God in Christ


Here is God's kingdom
Given to us as food
This is our body
This is our blood
A living sign of God in Christ


Lives broken open
Stories shared aloud
Become a banquet
A shelter for the world
A living sign of God in Christ

Oy, vey. A greater confusion between Creator and creature you will never see. Cooney windily and inaccurately defended his work before a queasy supporter, citing "Pauline Christology," specifically the idea of the Body of Christ Um. No. NO.

Nowhere does Paul ever identify himself as Christ, nor does he identify himself with the redemptive sacrifice itself, and no amount of eisegesis can change that. But "I Myself" does, with gusto.

OK--as much "gusto" as the sappy tune permits. "We here at Enron care about you and the community...." IMATBOL is high fructose nonsense, served up at firehose strength. The good news is that I hear it less and less often. The queasy flinch of the sensus fidei is slowly winning out. But it's still the worst of the worst--by a mile.

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