Another Song from Mass 10/17/10

Parish A this week. Wading into the enigma shrouded in mystery wrapped in a ‘huh?’ that is: Marty Haugen.

Eye Has Not Seen

Chorus
Eye has not seen,
ear has not heard
what God has ready
for those who love him;
Spirit of love, come,
give us the mind of Jesus,
teach us the wisdom of God.

When pain and sorrow weigh us down,
be near to us, O Lord,
forgive the weakness of our faith,
and bear us up within your peaceful word.

Our lives are but a single breath,
we flower and we fade,
yet all our days are in your hands,
so we return in love what love has made.

To those who see with eyes of faith,
the Lord is ever near,
reflected in the faces
of all the poor and lowly of the world.

We sing a mystery from the past
in halls where saints have trod,
yet ever new the music rings
to Jesus, Living Song of God.

While not at all my cup of tea, this song is not entirely unpleasant – at least, the tune shows a little bit of skill and the words are largely coherent and inoffensive.

This passes the ‘can I sing these words at Mass?’ test. The first 4 lines are straight outta Scripture, then come 4 kinda outta Scripture lines, including the baffling ‘give us the mind of Jesus’. I can’t think of anywhere else – music, formal prayer, Scripture – where we ask God to give us the mind of Jesus. To heighten the mystery, this line is the clear musical climax of the piece – it’s not a throw-away to fill out a line (a common enough occurrence in Mr. Haugen’s music, and more so among his contemporaries) – nope, the musical and, I assume, literary and spiritual, peak of this song is this request. It’s more glaring, to me, for what it’s not saying than for what it is saying – we could be asking for Jesus’ Love. Or Peace. Or Heart. Or – just getting crazy, here –  His Mercy.

But no, we want a piece of his Mind, as it were. This falls under the ‘be careful what you ask for’ rubric.

Probably there’s some clear Scriptural reference, and I’m just ignorant.

The rest of the song is also most striking for what it does not say. In Verse I, we ask forgiveness for our – lack of faith. Darth God: I find your lack of faith disturbing. Usually, in Catholic prayers, we try to get a little more specific and personal about our failings. In a world full of sin, to apologize for weakness in faith, to me, has a bit of a passive/aggressive vibe.

Another interesting line, end of Verse I: and bear us up within your peaceful word. Whenever I hear stuff like that – peaceful word – my mind cuts straight to ‘Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees! Brood of vipers! Hypocrites!’ – which, frankly, does give me a little comfort. YMMV.

Otherwise, there are no memorable lines in this song, nothing strikingly Catholic (Haugen is said to be a fallen away Lutheran – into the arms of the Church of Christ – so nothing surprising there), nothing you can’t take, with a generous spirit, as basically harmless – considering the song as a song, that is.

That said, when you realize you’ve used this little ditty in the Sacred Liturgy of the Catholic Church – where the Body and Blood of Christ comes to be among us, where we stand before the Triune Godhead in all our weakness – when hundreds of more worthy, more beautiful and more doctrinally and emotionally sound pieces exist – well, that’s not so good.

Author: Joseph Moore

Enough with the smarty-pants Dante quote. Just some opinionated blogger dude.

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