The Hands that First Held Mary's Child
  • https://hymnary.org/text/the_hands_that_first_held_marys_child

    Would you be comfortable with this as a Communion "meditation" during Feast of the Holy Family? There is no way our choir is ready to sing something more tradition like Puer Natus or O Magnum Mysterium. I fell down a rabbit hole while looking for music and came across this piece that intrigues me but leaves me wondering.

    The text can be seen here (but I would use the tune Resignation if I were to sing it) https://www.google.com/search?rlz=1C1NHXL_enUS763US763&sxsrf=ACYBGNQqcb8MhTri-WkQ9HPRtX9m88HWJA:1575565820273&ei=_DnpXYSVEInb-gSqx4yIAg&q=the+hands+that+first+held+Mary's+child&oq=the+hands+that+first+held+Mary's+child&gs_l=psy-ab.3..35i39l3j0l4j0i20i263j0j0i20i263.3756.3756..4007...0.0..0.127.337.1j2......0....1..gws-wiz.dgnWllk3GzY&ved=0ahUKEwiEg6aIgJ_mAhWJrZ4KHaojAyEQ4dUDCAs&uact=5
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 8,170
    Looking at it in my copy of Journeysongs, Second Edition, I see these verses:

    3. "This child shall be Emmanuel,
    Not God upon the throne,
    But God with us, Emmanuel,
    As close as blood and bone."
    The tiny form in Joseph's palms
    Confirmed what he had heard.
    And from his heart rose hymns and psalms
    For heaven's human word.


    There might be a theological weakness here in setting up an opposition between God upon the throne and God with us. Understanding the Incarnation involves recognizing that Christ is both fully divine and fully human; that He lives eternally with the Father and the Holy Spirit, and He also took on human nature fully. Troeger seems to back away from embracing the paradox fully. If Troeger had written that Christ is not only God upon the throne but also God with us, then he'd have expressed the Christian mystery better.

    Thanked by 1Don9of11
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 1,852
    I suppose someone could try asking Prof. Troeger for permission to change the words to-
    Both God upon the throne,
    And God with us, Emmanuel,
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 8,170
    Here is the final stanza:
    4. The tools which Joseph laid aside
    A mob would later lift
    And use with anger, fear, and pride
    To crucify God's gift.
    Let us, O Lord, not only hold
    The Child who's born today,
    But charged with faith may we be bold
    To follow in his way.

    I'm not fond of songs that point to someone else as the cause of Christ's suffering.
    Thanked by 1Liam
  • Don9of11Don9of11
    Posts: 317
    I think chonak is right regarding the theological shortcomings of this piece. In addition I am doubtful that Joseph was first to hold the Jesus. I know the hymn doesn't say that but I think it's implied. I looked through some of my hymnals and there is a simple chant, Mode Ii, in Pius X hymnal, "O Blessed Light", O Lux Beata Caelitum. It's listed as a hymn for the Holy Family. I don't know if your choir is capable of this kind of chant.
  • I agree with you, Chonak. I had an issue particularly with verse 3. Didn't our fathers in faith have some feisty fights hashing out the duel nature of Christ? Seems irresponsible or lazy to write so ambiguously like that.

    Don- thanks for the idea. I will look it up.