The 'We are the Church' texts

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Gedackt flute
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The 'We are the Church' texts

Post by Gedackt flute »

I have had my eye on three of the following (entrance) songs:

'We are the Church' - Chris Walker

'Sing a new Church into being' - Sr Delores Dufner

'Gather us in' - Marty Haugen

However, there seems to be opposition to this type of song in some circles. For example, I have been told that 'Sing a new Church' is heretical.

Has anyone on this forum used these songs?, and if so, how were they received?

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Nick Baty
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Re: The 'We are the Church' texts

Post by Nick Baty »

We use Gather us in frequently and it is well received. But Google it and you will find plenty of blogs – particularly US based – calling for its destruction.

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Re: The 'We are the Church' texts

Post by musicus »

Welcome to the forum, Gedackt flute!
musicus - moderator, Liturgy Matters
blog

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Calum Cille
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Re: The 'We are the Church' texts

Post by Calum Cille »

Indeed, welcome to the forum and thanks for raising this question. In my experience, these songs are generally received by congregations without remark.

I reproduce below what appear to be the offending verses of these hymns. I got them off the internet so I hope forum members can notify the thread of any errors in the words.

We are the Church the Body of Christ
We are the Church a people redeemed
We are the Church anointed to serve
God’s Holy People the People of God

I have removed most of the punctuation to illustrate my point. St Paul does say, "you are the Body of Christ," to a particular community. However, even with a dot, semi-colon or comma after the word "serve", the lack of cases in English means that this verse when heard can be construed as ending on the note that the Church's purpose is self-serving ('we are anointed to serve ourselves'), since the Church is known as the People of God. Not a notion I would want to sing about.

Let us bring the gifts that differ
and in splendid varied ways
sing a new church into being
one in faith and love and praise
Radiant risen from the water
robed in holiness and light
male and female in God’s image
male and female God’s delight
Trust the goodness of creation
trust the Spirit strong within
Dare to dream the vision promised
sprung from seed of what has been

We are not 1st century Jews and we do not live a pre-Pentecostal era. The idea of singing a new church into being is not representative of the status quo. Renewal is one thing. Ever-new is a second thing. A brand new replacement is quite another. Yes, like the scriptural seed, there is death to self and life to Christ but even if one is happy with language such as 'a new generation of the Church', that is still not the same thing as "a new Church".

Not in the dark
Of buildings confining
Not in some Heaven
Lightyears away
But here in this place
New light is shining
Now is the kingdom
Now is the day

This text may be attempting to knock down misconceptions of spatiality but, if so, it fails as soon as it opposes the locative words "in the dark" and "light-years away" on one hand with the locative words "in this place" and "here" on the other hand, saying in effect, 'God isn't there, he's here'. The language is uncomfortably close to that of the ignorant or scornful atheist: 'don't ask me to believe in some heaven light-years away'. Which buildings are being referred to? The catechism takes great pains to make it clear that God's presence dwelt in the Jewish temple in a special way; this hymn can be taken as working against such efforts by implying that God was not in fact there but is indeed here.

http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG0015/__P1N.HTM

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Re: The 'We are the Church' texts

Post by presbyter »

Calum Cille wrote:We are the Church the Body of Christ
We are the Church a people redeemed
We are the Church anointed to serve
God’s Holy People the People of God


Not quite CC. This is the Walker text:

We are the Church,
happy to be,
the children in God’s family.


We are building the kingdom. [x2]
Ev’ryone old and young.
Ev’ryone weak and strong.
We are building the kingdom, for …


We are sharing the Good News. [x2]
Ev’ryone old and young.
Ev’ryone weak and strong.
We are sharing the Good News, for …


We are following Jesus [x2]
Ev’ryone old and young.
Ev’ryone weak and strong.
We are following Jesus, for …


We are feeding
the hungry [x2]
Ev’ryone old and young.
Ev’ryone weak and strong.
We are feeding
the hungry, for …

I imagine that eyebrows are being raised in some places by the assertion that it is WE who are building the kingdom.

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Re: The 'We are the Church' texts

Post by Nick Baty »

presbyter wrote:I imagine that eyebrows are being raised in some places by the assertion that it is WE who are building the kingdom.

Aren't we?

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Re: The 'We are the Church' texts

Post by presbyter »

By the way - the vetting of hymn texts is nothing new in the history of the Church.

At the Council (Synod) of Laodicea (about A.D. 363), the Bishops were so fed up with poor quality and theologically inaccurate home-grown hymn texts, they banned the lot from the liturgy. Psalms became the order of the day.

Canon 59

59. Let no private psalms nor any uncanonical books be read in church, but only the canonical ones of the New and Old Testament.

Some Reformers tried to do likewise. Hence, for example, the Geneva Psalter.

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Re: The 'We are the Church' texts

Post by presbyter »

Here's the Dufner in full......... and I openly confess that I don't know what it means. The last two verses seem, to me, to have more to do with the political philosophy of the Constitution of the USA rather than the Church. I suppose verse one reflects the OT kahal YHWH, NT ekklesia. The refrain might have something to do with I Cor: 12 - but I don't know why using our gifts for the common good would bring about a "new" Church, or why we might want one. Verse two is something to do with our common dignity as baptised, human creatures but then verse three drifts into the realm of the nebulous, in my opinion..... or is "Dare to dream.." a deliberate reference to the rhetoric of Martin Luther King Jr? If it is, then the last two verses are indeed more to do with the USA Constitution than the Church, don't you think? We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal..... Is it a song about the Church and the Kingdom or is it a song about Enlightenment concepts of human rights? Perhaps it's just a bit of a muddled mixture of the two. Where's God's saving action in the last two verses?

Would I sing this as a liturgical song? No.

Delores Dufner, OSB

Summoned by the God who made us
rich in our diversity
Gathered in the name of Jesus,
richer still in unity.

Refrain: Let us bring the gifts that differ
and, in splendid, varied ways,
sing a new church into being,
one in faith and love and praise.

Radiant risen from the water,
robed in holiness and light,
male and female in God’s image,
male and female, God’s delight.
Refrain

Trust the goodness of creation;
trust the Spirit strong within.
Dare to dream the vision promised,
sprung from seed of what has been.
Refrain

Bring the hopes of every nation;
bring the art of every race.
Weave a song of peace and justice;
let it sound through time and space.
Refrain

Draw together at one table,
all the human family;
shape a circle ever wider
and a people ever free

(I am now wondering if the author imagines that the proper establishment of the USA Constitution is also the proper establishment on earth of the Kingdom of Heaven....ooops.)

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Re: The 'We are the Church' texts

Post by presbyter »

From another blog discussing the Haugen text:

I really dont care what the lyrics are but I think the song sounds cool.
:shock:

To what extent do people take notice of the texts of hymns when they are singing them? Discuss!

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Re: The 'We are the Church' texts

Post by Nick Baty »

Presumably very little. Otherwise As I kneel before you and Colours of Day would have been strangled at birth.

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Re: The 'We are the Church' texts

Post by presbyter »

I am now wondering if Sr Delores is really an OSB or an OLA......that's Order of Laura Ashley.Hard to tell from her photos. (And here's "traditionalist" little me thinking that the religious habit of enclosed orders is something to do with being a sign of having "put on Christ". I can't see Laura Ashley catching on in Colwich or Hugo Boss in Mt St Bernard's somehow.)

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Re: The 'We are the Church' texts

Post by Calum Cille »

presbyter wrote:
Calum Cille wrote:We are the Church the Body of Christ
We are the Church a people redeemed
We are the Church anointed to serve
God’s Holy People the People of God

Not quite CC. This is the Walker text:

We are the Church,
happy to be,
the children in God’s family.

Hmm, there appear to be two "We are the Church" lyrics. The one I quoted is apparently by Sr. Paule Freeburg, DC, & Christopher Walker and has been criticised online.

Nick Baty wrote:
presbyter wrote:I imagine that eyebrows are being raised in some places by the assertion that it is WE who are building the kingdom.

Aren't we?

Tamquam sacramentum, Ecclesia instrumentum est Christi. « Ab Eo etiam ut instrumentum Redemptionis omnium adsumitur », « universale salutis sacramentum » per quod Christus « mysterium amoris Dei erga homines manifestat simul et operatur ».
As sacrament, the Church is Christ's instrument. "She is taken up by him also as the instrument for the salvation of all," "the universal sacrament of salvation," by which Christ is "at once manifesting and actualizing the mystery of God's love for men."

« Viden quomodo [Iesus Christus] modeste agere doceat, ostendens virtutem non ex nostro studio tantum, sed etiam ex superna gratia pendere?
Consider how [Jesus Christ] teaches us to be humble, by making us see that our virtue does not depend on our work alone but on grace from on high.

Colossians 4:11
"These are the only men of the circumcision among my fellow workers for the kingdom of God, and they have been a comfort to me."

http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_ ... 06_en.html

The problem perhaps with the Dufner hymn is a matter of lopsidedness: that it seems to be strongly encouraging people to do or be something (act, act, act! be, be, be!) but without strongly encouraging them to depend on God in order to do or be or even intimating strongly that they depend on God in order to do or be. Having one line say, "trust the [Holy] Spirit strong within," isn't exactly belting you over the head to make that point, especially when the line takes second place after "trust the goodness of creation"!

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Re: The 'We are the Church' texts

Post by presbyter »

Calum Cille wrote:Hmm, there appear to be two "We are the Church" lyrics. The one I quoted is apparently by Sr. Paule Freeburg, DC, & Christopher Walker and has been criticised online.


Ah. Have I sown a seed of confusion? Apologies to CC if I have.

To which text do you refer GF ?

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Re: The 'We are the Church' texts

Post by NorthernTenor »

I feel queasy when this sort of thing creeps up on me unexpectedly: it reminds me of the unwholesome taste of cheap syrup. To be fair, it’s of its time, and as such it is possible to step back and see it as a fascinating period piece, reflecting the uncritical excitement of those who believed they were genuinely responding to the demands of the Council in liturgy and song (I have a similar fondness for Moody & Sankey). But it’s over forty years since the Council, and mature reflection on issues of reform, continuity and literary quality should have consigned such stuff to the great dustbin of historical oddities by now, to be dusted off perhaps at niche interest sessions of folk festivals.
Ian Williams
Alium Music

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Re: The 'We are the Church' texts

Post by presbyter »

(10) Fidelity to the rites and to the authentic texts of the Liturgy is a requirement of the Lex orandi, which must always be in conformity with the Lex credendi.


VICESIMUS QUINTUS ANNUS 1988 John Paul II

leads to…

(108) Sung texts and liturgical hymns have a particular importance and efficacy. Especially on Sunday, the “Day of the Lord”, the singing of the faithful gathered for the celebration of Holy Mass, no less than the prayers, the readings and the homily, express in an authentic way the message of the Liturgy while fostering a sense of common faith and communion in charity. If they are used widely by the faithful, they should remain relatively fixed so that confusion among the people may be avoided. Within five years from the publication of this Instruction, the Conferences of Bishops, necessarily in collaboration with the national and diocesan Commissions and with other experts, shall provide for the publication of a directory or repertory of texts intended for liturgical singing. This document shall be transmitted for the necessary recognitio to the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.


Liturgiam authenticam 2001 SCDWDS

Not as stringent as the Council of Laodicea but the pastoral concern is the same (and our Bishops are now requiring a Nihil Obstat in regard to publishing hymn books).

Having seen the recent Summer School liturgy book, even our Society can get things wrong. One text, a paraphrase of a liturgical hymn, has been misunderstood by the author. The original has been distorted in that something Christ is doing becomes something we ourselves are doing. The ecclesiology – a people called by Christ to do something, and responding to that call – is lost. Is that nit-picking? Perhaps those who sang didn’t notice such subtlety.

Hymn texts, of their nature, cannot express a huge baggage of theology but I do think that the amounts they carry should be orthodox.

Please do not ask me which hymn I am referring to. I do not wish to embarrass the author.

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