Liturgy And we thought OCP was bad by Jeffrey Miller January 2, 2007 written by Jeffrey Miller January 2, 2007 This has to be one of the worst hymns ever conceived by man: "O God That Great Tsunami" Any hymn with the words "economies" and "sewage" in it has to be awful. [Via Fr. Robb] 24 comments 0 FacebookTwitterGoogle +Pinterest Jeffrey Miller previous post Disordered pins next post Foxes, enjoy the henhouse You may also like Much ado about nothing July 7, 2007 Change everything except this June 14, 2006 2008 LA Religious Education Conference August 13, 2008 Pride of place July 6, 2008 How does he find this stuff? April 10, 2008 Looks like Gumby got a job March 18, 2008 Will the real Vatican II please stand up September 5, 2005 Blessed Advent November 28, 2010 Stop! September 14, 2005 Letter to the editor August 22, 2007 24 comments dlongenecker January 2, 2007 - 1:58 pm Actually ‘sewage’ is appropriate. Here’s my response, sung to the tune to ‘Now Thank We All Our God.’ Where Did this Hymn come from? I think I know the answer It came from someone Dumb Whose mind has got a cancer They think its kinda cute They think it brings us bliss, But they should get the boot And cut the hymns like this. MissJean January 2, 2007 - 1:59 pm That is awful! Personally, the worst line was equating sewage on the river with crying orphans. And, of course, these awful lyrics are put to the beautiful music for “O Sacred Head Surrounded”. Ed January 2, 2007 - 3:07 pm I give you “A Touching Place,” which I believe is in GIA’s “Gather” hymnal. There’s a copy on page 4 of this PDF: http://www.mercyworld.org/reflections/sacred/media/easter2005.pdf Scott W January 2, 2007 - 3:09 pm The title alone was enough to prevent me from clicking on the link you provided. I trust your word that it is dreadful. Scott Alcuin January 2, 2007 - 4:35 pm I rather wish that Providence would have allowed for a litte more even distribution of musical genius over the ages. Instead, the 16th-19th centuries got almost all of it and ours got none. Alas. Fr. Erik Richtsteig January 2, 2007 - 6:20 pm I thought this was a parody. IT SHOULD HAVE BEEN A PARODY! (Just imagine it sung by a 1970 liturgical jug band.) Also, the first time I was subjected to “A Touching Place” was not long after the abuse scandal hit the fan. Not a happy coincidence. Ephrem January 2, 2007 - 7:15 pm Ever since Jubilate lost the “Hymn Explosion,” that has been the strength of my competition. More of the same: http://www.hymnsocietygbi.org.uk/ (Click on Latest Changes, then New Texts) Lynn January 2, 2007 - 9:02 pm Cringe! Who thinks these things up? They can’t be serious. Fuinseoig January 2, 2007 - 9:42 pm My eyes! They burn! My brain! It melts! Oh, dear Lord above – I really, honestly thought that was a parody, until I read the fine print – apparently it’s an adaptation of a ‘hymn’ called “The Wind Came To Honduras” from six years ago or so; I didn’t have the courage to look for the original. And the Touching Place thing? I went to school to the Sisters of Mercy! And now they’re reduced to this? I’m going to have to go put on some Arvo Part now to rinse out my brain. CPKS January 2, 2007 - 11:42 pm There’s one hymn that’s all about sewage. I refer to the one with the repeated refrain “Oh God, drains.” Ephrem January 3, 2007 - 9:12 am The problem is: money. The solution: money. Specifically, a revival of the ancient Christian art of patronage. There are hymn writing competitions, with cash prizes, for just this sort of nonsense. In the 70s and 80s organizations sponsored hymn contests specifically for hymns on “non-traditional topics” such as the modern city or the electric light bulb or how great we all are. There is a contest right now, sponsored by NPM, for an “ecumenical Communion hymn”. Maybe it will be as good as the hymn they commissioned in the early 90’s, Sing a New Church into Being! So if any person or parish would like to have a positive influence on liturgical music, sponsor a $500 contest for a hymn about a real hymn topic, such as one of the mysteries of the Lord or our Lady, or about the destiny of the Church. Get good people to judge it–they’d probably be happy to see this kind of initiative. Cathy_of_Alex January 3, 2007 - 10:33 am “We can�t their bodies find:” Hey, Yoda, has composed a hymn! Andy January 3, 2007 - 11:59 am I present, “Silence! Frenzied, Unclean Spirit.” References to “grey cells of our mind” competes with sewage. MissJean January 3, 2007 - 3:13 pm I didn’t know there were Hymn-Offs for money! Man, I am soooo there! I have some Christmas songs I wrote when I was 12. They rhyme and can be played by anyone with three or so years of piano lessons. 🙂 Of course, I will tithe my winnings and promise not to yell, “In your face!” if I run into Marty and the boys. joanne January 3, 2007 - 3:51 pm That’s awful. And awfully funny, that’s the problem. Now I’m laughing at the tsunami. But it’s worse when these hymns are actually sung during the Liturgy, when even a good hymn can trigger laughter if it coincidentally applies to a current situation. If you’re female, and you’ve ever had an “outpouring” when standing up to sing “River of Glory” (or if you’re a parent and your child’s bladder gives out at just that time) you know what I mean. You can never hear the hymn in the same way again. I can therefore sympathize with the hearers of “The Touching Place”, though by the title already, laughter is guaranteed. I’ll never forget that Sunday of my childhood when, during the presentation of the gifts, my brother connected “Take Our Bread” with the money in his hand. We were asked to leave, that’s how uncontrollable our laughter became! Shouldn’t the poorly or imprudently written or implemented hymns (In case of River of Glory, it wasn’t the lyrics)be seen as “sources of scandal” in the sense of tempting the faithful? MOST words can be taken the wrong way, but some expressions just lend themselves to hilarity. joanne January 3, 2007 - 6:38 pm Already, I’m back. Heellllpppp! Family “debate” which I’m losing because i can’t throw a good tantrum. What I need is a theological explanation of why “Let Us Break Bread Together on Our Knees” might be fine for a Protestant service but is not appropriate for a Eucharistic hymn. Unless I’m wrong, but inside I KNOW it’s not right. I have tried comparing the “let’s share a sacred meal as a community of believers” to the reality of intimately receiving the fullness of the Body and Blood of Christ in Whom we become One, but i’m getting nowhere. That would be ok, except now I’m starting to feel a little crazy, because no one I know is disturbed by that hymn. That song affected me as badly as hearing “Proud to Be an American” as I was receiving Communion. patrick January 3, 2007 - 11:18 pm The song makes me sympathise more on the listeners and singers than the victims. Ephrem January 4, 2007 - 8:34 am MissJean, sounds like your music is about right–but the text is probably too religious to make any money. Sorry! Nick January 4, 2007 - 12:09 pm I’m of two minds regarding this. On the one hand, it _is_ a poorly written song; perhaps too hastily written. The choice of melody (which connotes reverential majesty) is totally wrong for the words (which are a cry for mercy, specific to a time and place). Furthermore, the words themselves are not the sort that an entire congregation would feel accustomed to singing. On the other hand, there is a cry to God here that a lot of us seem to have ignored. People have suffered greatly under that great tsunami disaster, which has wiped out entire villages and populations. This should not be taken lightly. I’m not saying nobody here is doing this, but I am getting the impression that people are more interested in the form of the song than the message. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t use this song in public. But the subject matter is too deadly serious to openly mock. Who said it–that “If something is worth doing, it’s worth doing badly”? Jeff Miller January 4, 2007 - 12:22 pm Nick, The quote is from Chesterton, though he said it as a defense of hobbies. Cristina A. Montes January 4, 2007 - 7:20 pm “On the other hand, there is a cry to God here that a lot of us seem to have ignored. People have suffered greatly under that great tsunami disaster, which has wiped out entire villages and populations. This should not be taken lightly.” I get your point. Although the effect of the stupid song is to make the listeners take the tsunami disaster lightly. Nick January 5, 2007 - 9:17 am I get your point, Cristina. And yet, had there not been a stupid song, but a well-crafted tune-appropriate song that remembers the tsunami disaster, and the deep-held ensuing emotions from the survivors… I doubt we would be talking about it. Reading the song as a song, it doesn’t work. But as a series of jumbled cries for help, it does. A line here or there kicked me in the gut, about the pain these folks were experiencing. And I just wondered if there could be a point to kicking a bad songwriter when s/he’s so down. Ephrem January 5, 2007 - 10:50 am Nick, this song is not only artistically problematic but theologically problematic as well. A liturgical song is not the place to question God’s wisdom. Nor is it, as here, the place to pit the Father’s providence (verse 1) against Jesus’ Incarnation (verse 2) and the Holy Spirit’s comforting (verse 3). In the OT, many songs were written to complain. The Psalms are full of complaints, and they should be our teachers as we go forward with music. But it is a delicate thing to complain in faith. The psalmists resolve the problem in different ways; in Psalm 22 (Palm Sunday liturgy) there is a quite specific turning point, in which the Psalm goes from prophetic complaining about the sufferings of Jesus to their meaning in the plan of God. Psalm 88 (Friday compline) has no turnaround; it is a simple complaint: this is how it is with me, God. Help me, for your Name’s sake. What usually goes wrong with these tragedy-hymns (I’ve read dozens of texts that were written after 9-11, for example) is that the writer tries to complete the theological thought in them. A sort of tidy answer is usually made, rather than leaving this new problem open for God’s own answer and saving action. In O God, that Great Tsunami, tragically, the answer seems to be: God the Father is mean and makes waves that kill, but Jesus is our friend who shares our suffering, and the Holy Spirit comforts us and empowers us to help. In other words, the Trinity is divided in purpose. Ouch. Some Day January 11, 2007 - 10:26 pm The tsunami was a warning for those who can understand. Exurge Deus! Comments are closed.