Friday, February 10, 2012

Hymns and Catholics

I love hymns.  Not the Christian rock of more contemporary churches (although I have to admit, some of it is really good), but the old fashioned, big hymn book, hard to sing hymns.  It's because I'm Catholic and that's how we roll.  And even though I've stepped away from organized religion in recent years, I still love my hymns.

(Before we get started let me caveat - I am not here to defend the Catholic religion nor will I bash it.  I don't agree with all of the stuff the Vatican spews and they don't agree with all the stuff I do either.  I don't really care - I'm not devout.  However I would say this - I don't expect perfection from my spouse, children and friends, why would I expect it of my religion.)

If you've never been to a Catholic Mass, I think you've really missed an experience.  Yes it's a lot of pomp and circumstance (which I love), and rituals (which I also love...see my post on not knowing what to do in an AA meeting), and rote prayers that sound like chanting and, well, once in a while some actual chanting.  But I see all of those as opportunities to meditate on why I'm in the building in the first place.  A chance to shut my mind off long enough to get closer to God and listen (and Jesus and the Holy Spirit too - we don't really differentiate - we're kind of equal opportunity worshippers).  If you don't have to think about the words because you've already committed them to your heart, than you can let God speak to you.

But let's get to the best part of any service (IMHO) and a Catholic Mass is no exception - the singing.  Let me be clear here - hymns are not easy to sing.  Usually they are written in some weird key that only Celine Dion or Josh Groban can master.  But if you have a good choir director who can arrange the music so that the congregation can actually muddle through, there is nothing better that standing and raising your voice to God and just singing the hell out of your soul!

So since I'm in a "shut up and listen" frame of mind now, I decided that I would listen to some of my favorite hymns on the way to work this morning and maybe do a little mindful meditation.

Let me share some of them with you - just the refrain of course.

On Eagles' Wings

And He will raise you up on eagle's wings,
Bear you on the breath of dawn,
Make you to shine like the sun,
And hold you in the palm of His Hand.

Be Not Afraid
Be not afraid.
I go before you always.
Come follow me, and
I will give you rest.
Amazing Grace (duh)
Amazing Grace,
How sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost,
But now am found,
Was blind but now I see.
And my all time favorite most of the time I cry when I sing this whether I'm in church or not hymn...
Here I Am Lord
Hear I am Lord, Is it I Lord?
I have heard You calling in the night.
I will go Lord, if You lead me.
I will hold Your people in my heart.

These are words and music that reach into my heart and fill me with warmth.  Songs that make me cry, think and feel loved.

You would think I would listen to them more often.  Maybe I will.  Maybe I'll even do it in a Catholic church.  Or maybe I'll just shut up and listen.

1 comment:

  1. As a musician, I am especially enamoured with the musical tradition in the Catholic Church. I love those hymns, and having been attending Mass fairly consistently for over 10 years now, and having converted in 2007, I too am emotionally affected when I sing them.

    There is so much to experience at Mass, especially the personal presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, and the various ways we worship him. When I am "tuned in," Mass really has a profound impact on me. The nifty thing is that there is such a diversity of worship taking place during Mass: meditation, Communion, singing, reading, listening, praying outwardly together, prayering inwardly, smelling incense, seeing the candles and the families.

    It really blows me away!

    Nice post :-)


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