So far, two of my generous readers have made very worthy proposals for the next modern liturgical ditty to get the Deus Vult treatment: aetherfilledskyproductions nominates Lord of the Dance and Richard A thinks Gather Us In should be very firmly kicked, um, up a notch. I agree with both. We’ll start with Richard’s suggestion merely because my muse is more intrigued by it at the moment.
My analysis of Gather Us In can be found here. To sum up, word count exercise reveals:
Us, We, Our, Ours, People, Peoples: 30 instances.
God, Jesus, Lord, (and related terms, such as Savior, King, etc): 0 instances. There’s an implied God behind the gathering, couple of pronouns wander by, but overall there seems to be a quaint delicacy about just naming Him, let alone thanking and praising Him. Almost like we think Dad’s asleep and don’t want to wake him. He might come down and see what we’re up to.
We also have here the subtle despair of low expectations. Pick any beloved old hymn and the poetry paints a vivid, concrete picture and puts us in it. Here? Vague feelz, curious circumlocutions, a general resistance to saying clearly what we are doing. Space and Place instead of Church; Awaken and arise to the sound of our names – what? See, the temptation for those of us paying attention is to provide logical backfill so that the lines say something – “I guess he means…” But really, it’s a hymn, not a reading comprehension test.
Must say, this might be the perfect song for the Deus Vult treatment, as it wants to gather us, just not into a holy army; it wants to change us, but not into Soldiers for Christ; it wants us to awaken, but not to repentance and holy fear of the Lord.
We can fix that.
The music here is slightly catchy schlock. I’ll set our gentle brotherly correction to Kingsfold, one of my favorite hymn tunes. Taking a stab at it verse by verse, onward!
Here in this place new light is streaming
Now is the darkness vanished away
See in this space our fears and our dreamings
Brought here to you in the light of this day
Gather us in, the lost and forsaken
Gather us in, the blind and the lame
Call to us now and we shall awaken
We shall arise at the sound of our name
Hmmm. A little weak. Also a bit of a windy word salad. How about –
The trumpet calls, our voices rise, our Light has filled the day!
Awaken from all earthly dreams, put childish things away.
With God our King we fear not death, His Love will conquer all
With angels, saints and martyrs we embrace His battle call
We are the young, our lives are a mystery
We are the old who yearn for your face
We have been sung throughout all of history
Called to be light to the whole human race
Gather us in, the rich and the haughty
Gather us in, the proud and the strong
Give us a heart so meek and so lowly
Give us the courage to enter the song
Yep, we’re all in this together. Cutting the pablum and punching it up a bit:
We look not to our humble state, our strength is in the Lord
With Him we stand, with Him we fight, take up His holy sword!
As He Our Lord died for our sins, from death we are set free
One Lord, one Faith, one Church we own! To live eternally!
Captures the nub of the gist? Next, we get a Eucharist verse, wherein the True Presence is presented in a manner acceptable to a fallen-away Lutheran. Haugen is a member of the Church of Christ according to his bio, so, of course we let him form the Eucharistic theology of our youth through song. What could possibly go wrong?
Here we will take the wine and the water
Here we will take the bread of new birth
Here you shall call your sons and your daughters
Call us anew to be salt for the earth
Give us to drink the wine of compassion
Give us to eat the bread that is you
Nourish us well and teach us to fashion
Lives that are holy and hearts that are true
OK, how about:
Christ gave His Body and His Blood to strengthen us each day
To suffer, fight, repent from sin so we might know His Way
We drink the Blood of Sacrifice, We eat the Bread of Life
We stand, refreshed, in battle rank, to follow Him through strife
Eh. Needs work. But I like the sentiment. Finally
Not in the dark of buildings confining
Not in some heaven light years away
But here in this place the new light is shining
Now is the kingdom, now is the day
Gather us in and hold us forever
Gather us in and make us your own
Gather us in, all peoples together
Fire of love in our flesh and our bones
Fire of love in our flesh and our bones
This here needs some correcting. Protestants, looking with horror on the innumerable beautiful Catholic churches housing Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in the tabernacle (and often dedicated to Our Lady – duh.), must needs dismiss them. Otherwise, people might be inclined to become and stay Catholic. Thus, you will see in the many tunes written by both overt and covert Protestants a consistent effort to dismiss the importance of actual Church buildings. Yet another example of how all heresies are heresies against the Incarnation: they recoil from the idea of the Transcendent God being physically here.
Also: light years? Sheesh. And – pssst – heaven has to do with being in the presence of God, so we’d better hope it’s not far away in time and space. Whatever that might mean.
We stand on holy ground this day, the Church our Mother be
And vow our very lives to give to bring all men to Thee
Fire hearts with Love to do Thy Will, give strength to human flesh
By Michael’s banner lead us Lord, till Heaven we possess.
Weeeeelll, doesn’t exactly rhyme – needs more work. But I like where it’s going!
Any more suggestions?