July 27, 2010

Are You There, Lucifer? It's Me, Charles

I'm sure that I've shared in the singing of Dan Schutte's "City of God" more than any other single piece of church music, excepting perhaps the Sanctus from Marty Haugen's "Mass of Creation." With it's giddy activism and joyful sense of eschatological transformation, it's a classic. Besides, I'm pretty sure it substituted for the entrance antiphon (what a mercy from God was my ignorance of such things at the time!) at every Sunday Mass for the three semesters that I was a Catholic in college.

Singing it today at Morning Prayer, though, an uncomfortable lyrical parallel came to mind. Consider the second verse:

We are sons of the morning, we are daughters of day
The One who has loved us, has brightened our way.


Now consider some 'horror punk.' This is the beginning of the later Misfits song "Speak of the Devil:"

Traded in my bible for a little black cat
The time of Armageddon's here
Some call me the son of the morning
God knows I'm the angel of light

The reference is to Lucifer, who is indeed sometimes called the "Son of the Morning." This is an uncomfortable parallel for sure!




10 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thanks Father Charles for an enlightening post. I hope I do not offend by saying, honestly, that I cannot stand "City of God" (the song, not the ideal)and I cringe every time (all to often) it is inflicted upon us in the pews. Same with most if not all of Marty Haugen's compostions. The Sunday missal is unfortunately, replete with these and other awful hymns.

Ad Abolendam said...

Is it wrong that I absolutely refuse to sing that song and virtually all others published by OCP, GIA, and WLP?

Brother Charles said...

So long as you sing the suppressed antiphon in the vox secreta. :)

Thom, sfo said...

After I converted I assumed the usual "omg you people are so disrespectful" schtick and criticized "City of God," "Gather Us In," "All Our Welcome," and all of the favorites. Since some time has passed, however, I've come to appreciate them. They might not be grand, triumphant anthems, but they are powerful prayers.

Brother Charles said...

Thom: I understand what you mean. What I said about the theology of the song I meant in all seriousness. Sometimes I rant against activism, but it's precisely in the light of eschatology that Christian acts and work in the world comes into proper focus.

Thom, sfo said...

Surely the Robes In Charge could see fit to place you in SE Ohio. (Our fraternity needs a spiritual advisor, anyway, and we're bonded to the Caps!)

pennyante said...

Thank God, we sing Gospel Music instead of those weak melodies from Haugen... Even Chant would be better... (and that's saying a lot coming from the liberal side like me) (grin) I couldn't get into the Misfits at all...

Thanks for an interesting post...

ben in denver said...

We have a chior director who thinks that even the Solesmes Movement was overly sentimental and modernist.

I think Haugen's Mass of Cremation might actually cause him physical injury.

Brother Charles said...

I'll say this about the Mass of Creation: I think you really need the horn part to make it work musically.

Anonymous said...

I did not immediately recognize the snippet of lyrics you gave, but after listening to the melody it had an immediate familiarity. I won't say anything bad about the song or liturgical music in general; but I must say that while I am at mass much of the music brings on more the imagery and feeling of a campfire sing-along ,rather than the solemnity of a liturgy. Is it wrong to criticize the current trend of turning of the mass into a musical? The one thing I always liked about daily mass versus the Sunday liturgy is it’s simplicity, and that it is most frequently spoken. In that simplicity, there is sublime beauty.