Sing to the Mountains
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,740
    I may be totally out of the loop, but where do I find this in the scriptures? I cannot find it.
  • GavinGavin
    Posts: 2,799
    Playing Devil's Advocate, I could say the same of "Beata viscera", "Gaudeamus", or a host of Marian music. But really that is a good point - one of the few strengths of the G&P repertory is its intimate link with scriptures. However this song has nothing to do with a scriptural sensibility except "This is the day the Lord has made". It's almost like someone wrote the music first and then thought up words kitschy enough to go with it.
  • Francis, I haven't programmed or played that ditty in over a quarter century; with no one complaining of its absence in the three parishes involved. Who gives a rip?
    In fact, back in the early 80's I did a workshop at Blessed Sacrament Cathedral in Sacto, CA. called "Sing to the Ceiling, sing to the floor, sing to the windows, then sing some more...." in which I ripped into the mindless, heartless, and squishy repertoire that later became known as "sing-songy." Suggested "folk groups" should adapt to preparing decent renditions of trad. hymnody (Finlandia's beautiful on the guit-tar, done well.) I wasn't invited back.
    On the other hand, I still have a song-leader under my "direction" who insists upon programming "Blest be the Lord" regularly, knowing his accompanist is the best organist in our region and still can't get it to sound like a banjo! Oh well...
    Story of my life.
  • In contemporary popular songwriting, the melody usually does precede the text. Henry Mancini took the tune for "Moon River" to Johnny Mercer. Mercer said, "Come back in two weeks." Mancini did and Mercer had two or three sets of lyrics worked up.

    Most of these tunes conjure up the credits for an 80s sitcom as far as I'm concerned. And regretfully, it's their "catchiness" that makes them popular.

    I prefer the October Project myself.
  • How many traditional hymns are also connected to actual scripture? Some of the best devotional music ever only refers to it. Why is this important? I don't like the song, but text source is not my reason.
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,740
    Well, folks, the point is that we don't sing to the mountains, we sing to the Lord. If this song is based upon scripture, then it would discount my excuse for not doing it as this is my comeback for NOT doing this song. (have never played this in church and don't intend to, especially since it promotes pantheism!)


    That is too funny! As the new DOM in the Tetons, I am constantly getting the 'request' to 'do' this 'song'. (and acutally, it is quite obvious that the cult of this piece belongs here! These mountains are 5 miles to the north
  • GavinGavin
    Posts: 2,799
    "Well, folks, the point is that we don't sing to the mountains, we sing to the Lord."

    This occurred to me too, but I think it's weak. Just take a look at "All Creatures of Our God and King". Oh no! We're singing to trees, rivers, the Sun, and the pagan concept of "death" as a demigod! Figurative language, figurative language, figurative language. If protestants can sing "Ye Watchers and Ye Holy Ones" without it being "saint worship" (as they might see it), we can "sing to the mountains".

    But I'd still rather not.
  • says Isaiah 2:6 and Psalm 1:118.

    Neither of those seems accurate, but there definitely are quotes of Psalm 118 in there, which I think is why this one gets put in the Easter section of hymnals.
  • Last week I subbed as organist at one of the most active (oops, I meant 'vibrant') parishes in the Archdiocese of Boston. To my surprise "Sing to the Mountains' had been scheduled. I was less annoyed by the text than by the fact that it was the only thing I had to practice.
  • Actually, if you read the text of All Craetures of Our God and King, we aren't singing to the forces of nature that St. Francis notes in his words. We are singing with them. Needless to say, "Sing to the Mountains" is somethingI would rather not sing to or with or whatever.

    Just a little FYI: have any of you ever noticed how eerily similar "They'll Know We Are Christians" is to Fleetwood Mac's "Tusk"? Last year, I took a business trip to College Station, Texas and during my free time, I drove to Houston. While I was driving "Tusk" came on and after hearing the notes, I couldn't help but laugh because if you substitute the words to the Fleetwood Mac hit, it would go very well with "They'll Know We are Christians."

    I guess both came out at about the same time.
  • Oh I just listened to this song on Youtube. You are right that it's the same, except that the Fleetwood version is groovy in the way that uncomplicated pop music is designed to be. For those interested:
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,740

    I take issue with your rebuttle. Many places in scripture and in our hymns there exists "exhortation toward creation to sing to God" which is entirely different than "singing" TO creation or worse, PRAISING CREATION as the deity. That small change in orientation is the difference between true worship of God and pantheism.

    With that said, we MUST eliminate hymns that have gross theological errors which leads me to the conclusion that there is no argument to be had.
  • GavinGavin
    Posts: 2,799
    Francis, and if you are exhorting towards creation, are you not addressing it? I can only think of the chorus, but I believe it says "sing to the mountains, sing to the trees". To what purpose? "Let all the Earth rejoice." Rejoice in what? "This is the day the Lord has made." So far as I know, we are only singing TO this or that based on the praiseworthiness of God, not based on the praiseworthiness of creation.

    It strikes me as being like the protestants who assert Catholics pray to Mary. Well, not quite - Catholics (as I understand the practice) ask Mary to pray for them. There is communication TO her, and this is seen as problematic as well, but ideally no power or aid is attributed solely to Mary, but only to God through her agency.

    I don't think the hymn is pagan at all. I would never use it because the melody is beneath the dignity of the Mass, but the text (again, the part I remember) is not troublesome unless someone should interpret it in a strange light.
  • When my boys were considerably younger, I used to sing to them. Not once did I think that I was praising them as deities. On back country camping trips I've been known to sing to and with mountains, trees, birds, and even the wind. They, like my children and like myself, are all creatures and creations of God. To sing to them is not to worship them but to share with them a gift that I was given by God. It is a form of indirect praise to the Creator.

    If you don't like a hymn then don't sing it. But please don't accuse the rest of us of "gross theological errors" for which there is "no argument to be had". Good heavens. No wonder the NPM flourishes.
  • Ah, Benedictgal and Jeffrey, y'all don't have the benefit of living through both the Scholte's tune and Fleetwood's 3rd comeback renaissance via Tusk. Just 'cause something's in a Dorian mode with a beat doesn't make them more than kissin' cousins. I'm telling you: the only way to render "They'll know...." is to inhabit the muse and mode of Bob Marley and the Wailers, put the bass on 2 and 4, have the gueetar and organ (Mr. B3 or Ruffati, don't matter) up-stroke the "chicka-boom, chicka-boom" groove, and then add a limon twist of patois to the vocals, mon. I an' I, ain't no Trojan Marchin' Band in dat music den, Jah-rules!
    I need to go find my meds, now.
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,740
    I sing to my boys too! Dr. Seuss and a host of other folk songs. But THAT is not the liturgy. And when I am out in the mountains, I sing too, just as you. "Home, Home on the Range! or The Bear Went Over the Mountain. That is totally different than music for the liturgy.

    The church has prescribed specifc texts for that reason. It is very specific who we are singing to and for what purpose. And singing to Mary comes in the category of Mother of God-angels, saints, which has a long tradition in our church, (which is called hyperdulia), a proper form of honoring God's created holy persons, but I don't think we should be singing to the mountains during the Mass.

    OK... I will grant you, it may be strong to call it gross theological error, but in this day and age of nature worship, why would we want to blurr the lines! I, for one, am out to create music that is MOST fitting for the liturgy. There is so much more that is better, why is it that we program this one ever third sunday?!

    Priorstf, remember, I do not judge any person, just the musical and textual content of what we choose for the liturgy.
  • GavinGavin
    Posts: 2,799
    Francis - the case though remains with your saint's text (although I don't know how accurate a translation "All Creatures of Our God and King"). If it is wrong to sing to the mountains, then it is wrong to sing to the sun, death, streams, etc. In fact, Francis, "All Creatures" does MORE to praise the creation than "Sing to the Mountains". "Sing to the Mountains" has 3 lines that even mention creation; "All Creatures", on the other hand, is filled with praise of the creation before the exhortation to praise God.

    Why does this matter? You won't use it because you think it's pagan, I won't use it because it's got an inappropriate melody. It matters because primarily someone could make the same counter-arguments I'm making, except that person might be doing it to get that music in your liturgy! I think that when we educate people, we need to have all of our logical ts crossed and ethical is dotted, otherwise we lose credibility. Secondly, there may be many Christians who use that song in private devotion or entertainment. If we're going to charge them with paganism, I think we owe it to them out of charity to be daaaaaarn sure that there really is paganism inherent in those two lines - again, the example of protestants accusing Catholics of worshiping Mary without even a rudimentary understanding of Marian doctrine. I don't think you're making a strong case of being able to convict those people of anything more than bad taste, which again I'm on your side for.
  • Yes, I think the song is poorly worded, but the sentiment is meant to "exhort" creation to sing to the Lord. BTW I accompanied "They'll know" with a protestant congregation the other day. Boy, do they take it slowly!
  • Yes, we sang this song growing up in the Baptist Church. I always assumed it was designed to affect some "early Christian" Jewish tradition thing. Doesn't work. I recall be shocked the first time that I heard it in the Catholic Church. Why are these people adopting bad music from the Protestants? I took it as a sign of a lack of confidence in one's own musical heritage.
  • G
    Posts: 1,389
    if you are exhorting towards creation, are you not addressing it? I can only think of the chorus, but I believe it says "sing to the mountains, sing to the trees". To what purpose? "Let all the Earth rejoice."

    Ah! The (1.)singer exhorts the (2.) listener to exhort the (3.) rocks and plants to praise the (4.) Creator! So it's like a great big game of cosmic, spiritual telephone....
    I always loved that game when I was a kid, but I'm wondering, could all the middlemen in this routing of prayer account for the garbled messages so many seem to be sending or receiving?

    (Save the Liturgy, Save the World)
  • GavinGavin
    Posts: 2,799

    "Daily Daily Sing to Mary" - The (1.)singer exhorts the (2.) listener to exhort (3.) Mary to pray to (4.) Christ, who intercedes for us to (5.) the Father! So it's like a great big game of cosmic, spiritual telephone....
    I always loved that game when I was a kid, but I'm wondering, could all the middlemen in this routing of prayer account for the garbled messages so many seem to be sending or receiving?
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,740
    Here is a better explanation:

    There is an intersting section on three offences against the adoration of God at the end.

    You know, all in all, we (I) tend to get very technical and heady about all this stuff. But the truth is, we have all suffered quite a blow to our historical liturgical sense in the last forty years. We (I) feel robbed, burned, deceived and the list goes on and on. But at the end of the day, I don't care if you Sing to the Mountains or the bed mites for that matter. As a director of music I am responsible that the liturgy reflects what our Holy Mother Church requests. Anything less than our best is not good enough in my book, and I expect the same thing of you as my colleagues. So, I am not asking forgiveness for raising your dander, just letting you know that it is OK for you to disagree and see things different. We are all trying to get our footing back on the right track. I guess this is the place (the only place) that I know and can feel at home in challenging your minds because you love and care about the music of the liturgy as much as I do. Thanks for your input.