Music-List Mondays: Anthem

Music-List Mondays: Where VibrantCatholic chooses a song and talks about it.

Song of the week: Anthem by Tom Conry

Listen to it here: Link (although it’s not the full version, it gives you an idea of how it goes)

We are wonderful, we can be weak, but we are created beautifully by God. We are so splendid in many ways, we are each unique, and made in God’s image. We all have a vocation, and we need to discern it.

Okay…did you see that up there. That was me trying to write as many “we’s” as I could. It reminds me of a certain song, and that song is Anthem.

Let’s first look at the refrain:

“We are called, we are chosen, We are Christ for one another,
we are promised to tomorrow, while we are for him today.
We are sign, we are wonder, We are sower, we are seed,
We are harvest, we are hunger. We are question, we are creed.”

There’s an abundance of the word “we” in the refrain. Thinking about this song during a Mass, it would seem that everyone is just singing to another person. Seems like a song used to empower a group to be closely bonded on their mission. But, wait, isn’t our mission as Catholics more than just becoming a community? Aren’t we essentially forgetting the reason as to why we would be at Mass together?

More than half of the refrain deals with us, the things we are, and what we will be. I don’t necessarily understand the meaning of the entire refrain, since how are we question and creed? That’s the one that really stumps me. Although, the refrain seems to bring about a sense of unity, especially trying to state that we are called to be a multitude of things, it doesn’t seem to bring about a good strong message.

Now, the first verse:

Then where can we stand justified? In what can we believe?
In no one else but Christ who suffered, nothing more than Christ who rose.
Who was justice for the poor, Who was rage against the night,
Who was hope for peaceful people, Who was light.

It seems to say that we should only believe in the suffering and Resurrection of Christ, and other aspects of his life. How about other key factors of the Catholic faith, such as Scripture or Tradition? Also, the “no one else” seems to state we shouldn’t believe in anyone else, but Christ. How about the Trinity? This verse raises questions, but does not give the listener a fulfilling answer at all. It does glorify Christ, but it is in a past sense. Christ is “justice for the poor”, He is “rage against the night. He is “hope for peaceful people, and He is light. Not was, but is. 

Second verse:

Then how are we to stand at all, this world of bended knee?
In nothing more than barren shadows, No one else but Christ could save us.
Who was justice for the poor, Who was rage against the night night,
Who was hope for peaceful people, Who was light.

“This world of bended knee.” Personally, I don’t see anything wrong with humility or humility. And I think that’s what this line is saying. We can’t stand if we’re humble or modest? If we’re being reverent, and kneeling or genuflecting? “In nothing more than barren shadows,” is it all just an act that has no meaning. Of course not! There are reasons why do we do certain actions!

Take a look at James 2:14, “What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him?” and James 2:17, “Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.” With that being said, we need works! Not just plain faith. We hope to earn salvation by both our works and faith. The second verse seems to say we don’t need acts of reverence or humbleness, we just need to have faith, no works or anything.

Finally, the third verse.

Then shall we not stand empty at the altar of our dreams?
When Christ promised us ourselves, Who mark time against tomorrow,
Who are justice for the poor, Who are rage against the night,
Who are hope for peaceful people, Who are light.

So I’m still confused on this verse. I hardly have any idea what it means. Let me try to sort my thoughts…What exactly is the altar of our dreams? Is it a physical destination, maybe a point in our spiritual life? Could it be heaven? The wording is confusing and not specific at all to the meaning. The second line is no less confusing. Is it about us having free will? The second part is just terrible grammar, honestly. While the second half of the verse is now in present tense, shouldn’t it be “is” instead of “are?” The “are’s” remind me of pirates…

Honestly, if anyone has any idea of what this verse was supposed to mean, please let me know. I’d really appreciate it!

Overall, I don’t like this song. Not only for its lyrics, but also because of the way it musically sounds. It doesn’t sound like a song that should be sung at Mass when we are partaking in such a breath-taking sacrifice, and receiving the Holy Eucharist.

Thoughts? Please let me know.

 

Music-List Mondays: “Bread and Wine”

Music-List Mondays: Where VibrantCatholic chooses a song and talks about it.

Song of the week: Surprise! There’s actually not a specific song this week…I’ll be discussing the words “bread and wine” in countless songs.

I was paging through the Gather hymnal the other day looking for something to play as a communion reflection when I noticed something…the majority of the songs had the words bread or wine written somewhere in the lyrics or title:

  • “Bread of Life from Heaven”
  • “Jesus, Wine of Peace”
  • “Let Us Be Bread”
  • “One Bread, One Body”
  • “I Am the Bread of Life”
  • “Jesus, Hope of the World”

And those were just a few.

So, I continued on with my thought process. If these songs constantly tell the listener that all the Body and Blood of Christ is just a simple bread and wine, then wouldn’t the listener not fully understand or believe transubstantiation?

I see this happening when people refer to the Body and Blood of Christ as merely bread and wine. By using those two words, it takes away from the full beauty of what happens during the Eucharistic Prayer. Simply put, it waters down the True Presence of Christ.

By replacing the words with more general terms, the reverence and meaning is condensed and fails to remind the congregation what is truly happening. When many left Jesus for saying they should eat his flesh, they didn’t accept his teaching. They couldn’t believe it, and they wanted him to speak of it symbolically or metaphorically.

As Catholics though, we do believe that the bread and wine is then transformed into the true Body and Blood of Jesus Christ at transubstantiation. When we simply reduce it to terms like “bread and wine,” we are forgetting the basis of what we believe.

Many who state they’re Catholic say they don’t believe in the True Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. I think one of the main reasons is because we have songs that get into their minds with the message that it’s just simply us “eating bread and drinking wine.” It also is a part of the reason as to why the Eucharist isn’t as revered as the Body and Blood of Christ ought to be.

These are just my recent thoughts, I’d love to hear your perspective on this, too! Thank you for reading!

Music-List Mondays: Be Glad (GIA)

Music-List Mondays: Where VibrantCatholic chooses a song and talks about it.

Song of the week: Be Glad (GIA)

by David Haas, with others such as Marty Haugen, Lori True, Tony Alonso, Michael Joncas, Paul Tate, Ricky Manalo, etc.

Listen to the song here!!

Let me just tell you the first time I heard this was in my high school liturgical choir. And the mass we were going to sing it for? Mass on the feast day of St. Andrew Dung-Lac and Companions, who are Vietnamese martyrs.

Some of the lyrics that stuck out:

“This is my servant, my soul’s delight.” I can’t tell. Who are we even referring to at this point??

“The earth and sky tremble, but the Lord God will defend his people. I am going to bless you till you’re satisfied. Overflowing in abundance, my people will never be despised.” Wait…so why is there suddenly a change in the POV. You really shouldn’t just change from third person to first person. Also, what is the meaning behind emphasizing that the children of God will never be “despised.” 

Anyways, let’s get into the actual review:

Well, my school chose to sing this on the Vietnamese martyrs feast day. As a Vietnamese American, how do you think I felt having to sing this during the mass with our campus ministry leader telling us to smile during the song. There’s something utterly wrong in one of the messages, and it seems as if the writers forgot some important bible verses,

“If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you.” John 15:18

“If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also” John 15:20

“Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” Matthew 5:10-12

Those are only a few verses on persecution, so why is a main message that those who believe in Christ will never be persecuted. As a Vietnamese-Catholic, who’s ancestry and ethnic people who have encountered the hardships of Christian persecution, there is no way I agree with this message that the song has portrayed. Christians are still being persecuted in places all over the world, it has not stopped.

I don’t understand the reasoning behind choosing this song especially for such a memorable feast day, a feast day honoring those that had died for their faith. I don’t think the people that chose to use the song at my school thought through the meaning, and instead probably thought “this is such an upbeat song, the youth will surely love it.” Wrong. I despised it, and no, the whole “smile everyone!” thing didn’t help me feel that better, either.

Change in point of view during the song, why?!? Not only why, but when is it ever right to put words in God’s mouth and pretend that’s okay. I’m pretty sure there’s never a time for that. As for the first line I mentioned, the servant should only be referred to Christ, it should not imply the entire Church. Also, they wrote in God’s voice saying that he will bless “you, until you’re satisfied.”

It seems as if they’re glossing over the fact that Christians are persecuted and despised to this day still. I am still unsure of the entire meaning of the song, it tells the listener to “be glad,” but am I supposed to be glad when I know that there’s still ways I can improve in? It gives the listener thoughts that they’re good enough, that they don’t need to change, and that God’s already pleased with how we are at this point. But, we aren’t perfect, we need to keep improving, our faith cannot just stop at this point when we think we’re ‘good enough.’

Although I have a lot of problems with it being used for a mass on feast day of martyrs, I also do not like the music style and do not it’s appropriate for mass…in other words, the electric guitar and upbeat rhythm do not appeal to me.

So that’s it for this Music-List Mondays!

 

My First Lifeline Experience

Yesterday was the first time I attended a Lifeline at the NET Center. I mostly wanted to go because I wanted to hear Fr. Mike Schmitz who was the speaker yesterday. I do want to point out that I am not someone who particularly likes Praise and Worship music, and I don’t believe it should be present at mass either.

The First Things

The first thing I noticed as I walked into the building was “Wow, it’s really loud. Oh, we’re going to be in a gym.” I have gone to masses in gyms before since when my parish church was renovating, masses were held in the gym. When it was about 5:15 pm, we were able to go in and the people I went to sat nearer to the back of the gym. One thing I was waiting to see was whether we’d kneel during the Eucharistic prayer or not. 

We started out with a countdown and then continued with Praise and Worship music. Now this is when I started questioning a few things. First of all, one of the singers from the band said, “Worship is essentially praying and singing together,” which is definitely not true, but I was extremely glad when Fr. Schmitz later emphasized “Worship is about sacrifice.” I also found the song “God’s Great Dance Floor” by Chris Tomlinson to be very strange since I don’t see any theological reasoning behind the song as to why God would have us on his “great dance floor.”

I almost forgot, there was a lip-syncing competition at the introduction. One person lip-synced to Adele “Hello,” and another person did “Drag Me Down,” and let’s just say I didn’t appreciate all the head banging/flipping of the second. Those performances seemed inappropriate to have in front of the altar. We hadn’t even gotten to the mass, yet…

The Mass

The mass? Actually, I was impressed with certain things. The space between the rows of chair was very limited, so I was unsure if we were going to kneel at all. But after the Sanctus, everyone (except those on the risers) knelt down between the crowded area. We continued kneeling until after the Great Amen, then knelt again after the Agnus Dei. Even after communion, people returned to their seats and knelt again, although some sat when the priest returned to his seat, many still remained kneeling until the priest said, “Let us pray.” I thought of other places where I’ve seen people have much more space between the chairs and wouldn’t kneel, but in this small area, everyone knelt.

Fr. Mike Schmitz was a wonderful celebrant for the mass. His homily connected everything that we heard about and genuinely inspired us all. One of the best parts of his homily for me was when he said that God doesn’t want our 90%, but God wants our last 10% since it’s that last 10% that makes a difference in the world. He had great reverence for the Eucharist and it was shown through the way he celebrated the mass. 

Music during the mass was 40% alright for me…there was a chant psalm, and there was another song that I was used to and not too much Praise and Worship. The songs were alright, but the mass parts were something I wanted to complain about. I didn’t like the Gloria, at all. And what is the reason behind “Allelu,” during the Alleluia, I was definitely confused on that since I didn’t think that was correct. The Agnus Dei had some Latin in it, such as “miserere nobis” and “dona nobis pacem,” but that was about all the Latin I heard. The P&W songs that were used were not horrible (as in super upbeat), and there wasn’t any clapping until the closing song. 

The Talk

Then we had the talk, which was honestly my favorite part of last night. I took down a whole page filled with great quotes from Fr. Mike Schmitz. I’ll list a few of my favorites:

God has a vision for your life, for you to become a saint. Nothing more or less than that.

Where you are right now is the result of choices. Who you will be is the result of your choices.

Intensity did not get me here, consistency got me here…consistency will beat intensity every time.

They don’t choose greatness one time, they choose greatness every time.

A small ‘Yes’ today can be a great ‘Yes’ tomorrow.

Adoration 

After his talk, we had adoration. And…it was incredibly hard for me. It was somewhat reverent, but we only had a few minutes of quiet adoration. The deacon processed around with the monstrance and it was the first time I saw people reaching their hand(s) and arms out toward the Blessed Sacrament. When the monstrance was finally on the altar, the band had played multiple songs. I tried praying, but that didn’t work, I tried closing my eyes, but it was still very difficult to pray. I tried listening to God’s voice, but it was extremely hard to do so with the music, even if it was softer. People would get out of their seats and head towards the area closer to the altar and kneel there, while others like myself stayed at our spots kneeling. The only two songs played during that time that I like were “Down in Adoration Falling (Tantum Ergo)” and “Lord, I Need You.” 

Final Remarks

Although I mostly went to hear Fr. Mike talk, I didn’t think it was a terrible experience. I was especially amazed by the kneeling, since we don’t even do that at my school with more space between the rows of chairs. There’s a sixty percent chance that I’ll go to another Lifeline, and part of the reason of why I would return would be that there was still some reverence in certain parts of it. If anyone wasn’t sure whether to go or not, I’d say go, but just know that there’s a lot, A LOT, of Praise and Worship music. 

Feel free to share your own experiences at Lifeline in the comments below! 🙂

~This was originally published on vibrantcatholic.blogspot.com (I’m currently deciding whether to move blogs or not)