Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Singing the Truth

St. John of the Cross

    Edward Roche in the October issue of Challenge Magazine complains in the editorial of the inclusion of protestant hymn books in the Catholic Book of Worship I, II, and III. He says these are hymns from an alien culture. That is correct. But our purpose is not to preserve a culture but to save souls. In doing that we will preserve Catholic Culture and ergo Western Civilisation. The problem with the CBW, I, II, and III is they are insipid and get more so as they progress er regress. There is no clarion call that there is Truth, there is a Saviour and that we have a duty to spread that Truth, to help people accept that Truth and to persevere in the Truth.
     When I graduated from grade XII a neighbour family gave me an engraved copy of The Hymnary, published United Church Publishing House 1930. The editor Sir Earnest MacMillan’s earned his “Sir” , from among other things, editing this book. A story about him is included in the Grade XI   All Sails Set Copp Clarke series.  The sections of the hymnary parallel the Apostles’ Creed and the Christian duty to evangelise. Where are the equivalents of “ Rescue the Perish, Care for the Dying, Snatch them in pity from sin and the grave.”
    “ I was sinking deep in sin, far from the peaceful shore.”
     “ There is a fountain filled with blood Drawn from Immanuel’s vein. “
     ” I am Thine O Lord, I have heard thy voice.”
    You will find Blessed Cardinal Newman’s Lead Kindly Light and all the verses of the Middle Ages Her Vigil Keeping. It is a book that respect beauty, the complexity of great poetry, and is a flesh and blood Christianity where sinners need to be told that they are sinners and that there is a cure, Christ. It assumes that people can rest in the assurance of God’s Grace . This is not contradictory to the Catholic position that we must persevere to the end to reach Heaven and can do so with the help of the Church.
    So many hymns that I have heard and sung since a child I now see make complete sense within the context of the Catholic Church and the actual presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. I am convinced that these hymns were inspired by a great love of God with the help of the Holy Spirit. This is especially true of Charles Wesley’s.
    There are a lot of songs that are for  out- reach that do not have a place in the Mass. We have been singing for a long time “ If I were a butterfly,” “ I may never march in the infantry”, “ I like bananas” and if you don’t know the rest of these songs come to camp. One of the many hundreds mile trips will do it too. Our job is to be fishermen. Fishermen know you use different bait for different fish and different waters.
    Maybe Catholics should be the ones singing at the corner of Booze and Flesh and giving a simple Gospel message. We should be the ones running camps and VBS, not just for the children of the faithful who teach their children Latin, but for the children in the Projects (U.S. Public Houses), in the streets and where grafetti is even spelled wrong.
    One Palm Sunday as we were coming home from a two thousand mile trip we stopped in at St. Mary’s in Saskatoon. People were singing about Jesus riding a pure white horse . Jesus did not ride a pure white horse on Psalm Sunday. The B-I-B- L- E tells me so. We first have a responsibility to get the facts straight and transmit it responsibly.
    Yes there are some terrible hymn books with the word Catholic on them. The problem is some people don’t believe we have the Truth and the Truth is Christ. Our brothers, albeit separated, who believe that and have composed reflecting that belief are not our problem. Love, in Christ, Gay