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Saturday, 29 August 2009

The Song We NEED, Rather Than Want

Quoting myself, in a combox at Mara Joy's, who, like virtually all chief-pickers-or-songs-at-Mass, is dismayed at the flatness, the thinness, the sameness, the banality, the redundancy of the texts of the hymns with which, for various reasons, we are stuck, as opposed to the wealth, sitting there untapped, of the propers.

We do sing praise, praise, happy, happy most of the time.

My "default" for many liturgies whose introit strikes a tone similar to today's is "There's a Wideness in God's Mercy," (which, IIRC, I needed to teach my congregation, as they had no text in their repertoire that addressed the need for mercy,) but even that states the sinner's receipt as a fait accompli rather than us having the humility and good sense to actually ASK for God's mercy.

The more immersed in Liturgy I become (and the progression through the psalms in the LotH is GREAT for teaching this,) the more I need to say or sing all those different things which the psalms encompass, often vastly different from verse to verse in a single psalm.

Such prayer becomes a process rather than a moment.

The Hymn Sandwich leaves us so theologically impoverished!

There are theologically profound hymns, of course, but they are not the ones that achieve Top Ten status, (they're not the ones people ask for, the ones they want,) and in the utilitarian practice of only singing the number of verses necessary to get from point a (in time or space,) to point b, we seldom enjoy their richness even when we do sing them.

The general instruction for the LotH has something about the desirability of using the appointed psalms even if they don't fit your current mood or perceived needs.

I suspect the psalms we resist, are the ones we most need to pray.

1 comment:

Mary Jane said...

The psalms are both rewarding and challenging. Interestingly, when the Liturgy of the Hours was revised, many of the more "difficult" verses were excised.

You know, just the way we improve those 18th and 19th century hymns with words like "wretch" or "worm."