Saturday, April 23, 2011

Were You There?

I don't mean to cast dispersions on this Spiritual hymn.  I just don't think it is appropriate for Good Friday Liturgy.

I don't know if I can explain it, but I'll try.

I have been involved in gathering liturgical information for years.

I have in my home, several books that I use

I have a Lectionary, which has the readings and psalms for Sundays and Solemnities.

I have a Missal, not a missalette, from which I get the English translations of the Entrance Antiphon  and the Communion Antiphon that would be found in the Sacramentary. ( at present there is no english translation of the Offertory Antiphon)

I have a Graduale Romanum, which has in latin all the Antiphons of the Propers, Offertory included, and the Chants between the readings

I have the simpler to sing, Graduale Simplex, which has Mass Suites arranged for the seasons, and Mass Suites arranged thematically as well as Mass Suites for the Solemennities and the Commons of Saints.

I have an English Translation of the Graduale Simplex intitled : By Flowing Waters, by Dr. Paul Ford.

I have CBWII and CBW III and I also recently purchased the companion to the CBW III

So I have the resources to do my research, and I take it seriously.  How I started and why I started this research if subject for another post, and maybe  one day I'll do it.

And For Good Friday, I notice that hymns this day is about Christ's suffering and death.  Wellit doesn't take a genious to figure that out. but let me continue:
At the Veneration of the Cross, the Graduale Romanum, and the Graduale Simplex (BFW)  have suggested is the Reproaches, and the Hymnus (Hymn) Crux Fideles,(Faithul Cross)

The two offer the following:  One reminds us all the love God showed us and we repaid him with suffering and death. God speaks to us, and we are accused, and we must answer.  He demands an answer - though no true Christian can have a satisfying answer to the charges rightly laid aginst us.

Crux Fideles, is a hymn about the cross, as insturment of our Salvation.  We venerate in song the tree on which Christ brought about our Salvation.  We glorify the cross, because Christ used it to save us.

Further: in general: Hymns in church should be from us to GOD.  In the crucifixion, we are Christ's accusers, we are Christ's jailers, we are they who,  by our future sins, necessitated his suffering.

And on the surface Were you there? suggests this.  Because Were you there?  when they crucified Christ although we weren't there physically, our sins were each lash, our sins were each nail, our sins were each jeer and insult.. I get that.  But the form the song takes, is between human beings about the act of crucifying.  It isn't between Us and God.  It isn't even between us and the cross.  It is between 2 believers, our conversation should be between us and Jesus, most especially on this most intimate of all days.

I've probably done a horrible job explaining it all.

Then again, what do I know.


thedivinelamp said...

Strictly speaking, the song isn't even a hymn. It belongs to an American music genera known as "Negro Spiritual." The song appears to have originated in the South Appalachian Mountains near the end of the American Civil War and is about suffering in union with Christ. American slaves related to the crucifixion because it was, like their own circumstances, an event of unconscionable injustice. Musicologist and jazz historian Consuela Lee has commented on the use of the word “tree” in the song, rather than cross. "Jesus of Nazareth was lynched. The slaves knew what that was." Separated from its historical context the song loses much of its power.

Puff the Magic Dragon said...

Thank you, Dim.

And I understand that the American Slaves would relate and understand the injustice of Christ's crucifixion.

It isn't about the redemptive quality of Christ's suffering. Nor is it about our gratitiude that he didn't just come down from the tree, saying in essence: you are on your own. It doesn't even suggest that we are responsible for what Christ suffered, but rather that injustice affects us all.

Still doesn't belong at a Good Friday liturgy.

Scripture to keep in mind

Six things there are, which the Lord hateth, and the seventh his soul detesteth: [17] Haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, [18] A heart that deviseth wicked plots, feet that are swift to run into mischief, [19]A deceitful witness that uttereth lies, and him that soweth discord among brethren. [20] My son, keep the commandments of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother. ***Cf:Douay-Rheims Proverbs 6: 16-20


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