Gather Us ... Huh???
Father Z and the Z-Bots are having a discussion on this subject. And why not, this one hasn't been beaten into the ground at WDTPRS for ... at least a year.
If you're a practicing Roman Catholic, you've either heard this song, and/or wish you hadn't. It is a contemporary hymn penned by Marty Haugen, a Lutheran composer who enjoys some measure of popularity with Catholic audiences. Between him and David Haas, they are more or less the kingpins of the Catholic contemporary liturgical music scene. (How's that name for a niche market?) Despite what everyone says, it's not a bad tune. In fact, it's rather catchy, in a sort of guitar-slinging, barroom-singing sort of way. Maybe that's why there are so many "drinking song" alternative lyrics floating around the internet. (Yo, Marty, you know what they say about imitation. You go, boy!)
The problem is with the words, which is something of consequence inasmuch as singing in church is a form of praying, and we pray what we believe.
Here in this place new light is streaming,
Now is the darkness vanished away,
See in this space our fears and our dreamings
Brought here to You in the light of this day.
Gather us in the lost and forsaken,
Gather us in the blind and the lame;
Call to us now and we shall awaken,
We shall arise at the sound of our name.
Okay, so it goes on like that for a while, with a verse about bringing the bread and wine and eating and drinking it and (urp!) stuff like that. But it's all rather vague, as if the priority were for the words to fit the rhyme at all costs. (Most of the "underground rock" of the late 1960s fits into that realm, which should tell you something.) But it's in the fourth and final verse that it starts to get weird.
Not in the dark of buildings confining,
Not in some heaven light years away,
But here in this place the new light is shining,
Now is the Kingdom, now is the day.
Now, if this is what I believe, why the h*** did I get up early on a Sunday morning to sit in the “dark of buildings confining” hoping for a place “in some heaven light years away” when I could have slept in late? Other than the prospect of a free nosh of bread and wine, the song doesn't give me an answer. Not one worth living for, at least, never mind dying for, don't you think?
Or don't you?