PBEH Discussion: See Us, Lord About Your Altar
  • Cut verse 3?

    Rewrite it?
  • He is speaking of

    Once were seen the blood and water: Now is seen but bread and wine;
    Once in human form he suffered, Now his form is but a sign.

    We've sung this for years. I love the tune. It's in all the Catholic hymnals currently in print from the usuals. This text is oddly confusing and can be taken several ways. It surely does seem to introduce confusion. I mean, you could regard it as saying that the bread and wine are mere visible signs of the real presence. But is that right? It's always bugged me.
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,486
    Very confusing! Every single parallel is inexact. Another possible interpretation is that the Incarnation only seemed to occcur. Better off without it, my 2 cents.
  • One of my choir members long ago pointed these lines out to me after we sang it; as a result I never selected it. I'm with Kathy on this one. (I'd be inclined to omit the hymn altogether.)
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,486
    Overall, it is a sad fact of hymnal history that wine rhymes with sign.
  • The tune, by Sir Edward Elgar is already present in another incarnation. Anyone want to fight to the death over this one...do it now, or forever....

    Of course it is sort of silly: "See us, Lord..." like we need to draw His attention to us?
  • yeah. Good. The tune surely is tops. The words are just too mixed up. After all, head scratching puzzlement -- and a sense that a hymn is flirting with consubstantiation or, at best, some incomplete expression of something vaguely resembling truth -- is not really what one wants in a hymn.
  • JDE
    Posts: 588
    It's an excellent opportunity for some enterprising poet/hymnodist to write a text that fits and *isn't* confusing.
  • What is the name of the tune? I am not familiar with these words. Not in Ritualsong, I don'tthink.

  • It's not in Ritual Song? Well, maybe we had better reconsider....it may have some redeeming qualities that caused them to leave it out.
  • Well, it's just because I'm not a cradle Catholic. There are a few tunes I don't know! On the other hand, the first time I ever sang in a RC Church it was 'Mother at thy feet is kneeling'. LOLOLOL (The nuns allowed me to sing behind a wooden screen, so no one could see me, a heathen ,while I sang- I think it was for a wedding)

  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,486
    What is the whole text?
  • 3. Once were seen the blood and water: Now is seen but bread and wine;
    Once in human form he suffered, Now his form is but a sign.

    4. Wheat and grape contain the meaning: Food and drink he is to all;
    One in him we kneel adoring, Gathered by his loving call.

    Tune here (and note that OCP claims copyright only to the guitar chords, snicker)

    controversy thread here
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,486
    Thank you. I've actually never seen this hymn before.

    The rhymes without exception are cliche, the phrases are stiff, and the theology is pre-Vatican II liturgical movement. I would agree with Frogman that this is a very horizontal hymn. I would go so far as to say that it seems to be an attempt to re-direct vertical piety into the horizontal direction. Verse 4, which is probably an attempt to versify "the meaning" of the anaphora of the Didache, is egregious: wheat and grape contain the meaning? CONTAIN the meaning of the Eucharist? As food and drink????

    Don't get me started on 20th century Eucharistic hymns, but I beg you to omit this one.
  • But isn't it interesting that OCP includes it in everything? We've used it because of the dignified music.
  • Tune appears twice in current working collection with much better texts, let's leave this one to OCP.

    Firmly I Believe and Truly is but one of them....

    The tune is by some unknown, minor composer, Sir Edward Elgar.
  • I just wanted to know the Hymntune name. And I feel better now that I know Kathy doesn't know it either. :)
  • Oh, it's Drake Boughton. I know the tune. And it is in United in Christ. I remember now rejecting it just b/c of the words. Not a bad tune, though

  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,486
    "We've used it because of the dignified music."

    I think this happens every week with various hymns in some of the best music programs! That is why we need a censorious high commissioner!

    No, seriously, we need detailed, detailed, detailed commentary on hymn texts.
  • G
    Posts: 1,396
    I think [using hymns because of the dignified music] happens every week with various hymns in some of the best music programs! That is why we need a censorious high commissioner!

    Better to risk leaving out a dozen good choices than to risk including a single dangerous, (and I use that word advisedly,) one.
    We need persnickety theologians and poets.
    The CMAA is fortunate to have them both, sometime in the person of a single member ;oP

    (Save the Liturgy, Save the World)
  • Yes, Elgar is well-known for writing tunes that are not bad.
  • francis
    Posts: 10,532
    I Like the tune. The words are definitely confusing. Kathy could give us something better.
  • Maureen
    Posts: 673
    Re: good tune, bad words or confusing theology

    Ugh. Hate that. We just learned a new song last night at choir practice that was like that. The tune was pretty enough but not a singing tune; the chorus particularly was nothing like a chorus, and sounds like it will be very hard to learn. But the lyrics! Every verse ricocheted from "harmless clouds of nice sounding words that mean nothing" to "lame and annoying", to "total cognitive dissonance and illogic", and then to "cruising close to heresy and blasphemy".

    I actually felt physically sick, in a way I haven't felt in years. You know how poetry affected Emily Dickinson? Like that, except the opposite.

    So when the music director asked us how we liked it, I said that if we sang it to a totally different set of words, I'd have no objections. I kinda figured my vote wouldn't rule, since for some reason everybody else thought it was "pretty"; but at least I said what I thought. So we will be singing it, and I will have yet another opportunity to offer stuff up and so forth.

    The really annoying thing is that I don't think the songwriter was actually up to mischief; it feels more like a case of "lazy lyricist", somebody just throwing words up until they finished five verses of this dreck. This person does write competent songs when she tries, so she has no business playing the lazy lyricist card.
  • Friend called from Mass....choking over having to sing, "Jesus, Wine of Peace."
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,486
    I don't have time to write at the moment, but Noel, if you keep a running tab of suggestions of tunes that need texts, I'll work on it in a month or two.
  • One of us is running a tab of things that need done, it will be added. Thanks!
  • Do we have any early French things, or a tune or two of Gibbons?

  • G
    Posts: 1,396
    My choir uses the Third Mode Melody for a metric setting of Ps 43, "Send Forth Thy Light."
    We have a weird library...

    (Save the Liturgy, Save the World)
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