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Sunday, December 1, 2013

Whither Jerusalem?

There is in England a well known tune called Jerusalem, most often sung in Anglican churches.  The melody isn't nearly as well known in America, but it should be, as it is hauntingly beautiful.  The problem for English Catholics is the words aren't particularly good for Mass -- i.e. the lyrics used are from William Blake's poem, which refers to England's "Dark Satanic mills."  So most times when it's requested for a Catholic Mass, it gets turned down.  HOWEVER, I think there is a remedy to this.

At Ronald Reagan's funeral, the tune of Jerusalem was used, but the words used were not Blake's but the newer words to "Oh, Love of God, How Strong and True" which uses the same melody as Jerusalem.  This song would be quite appropriate for a Catholic Mass.    I wish this song were better known in US Catholic Circles.  The video is of the National Cathedral Choir singing "Oh Love of God, so Strong and True" -- US Catholic churches incorporating this song into their Easter cycle would benefit, and also English Catholic could enjoy their beloved melody without singing about "dark Satanic mills."

"O love of God, how strong and true!
Eternal, and yet ever new;
Uncomprehended and unbought,
Beyond all knowledge and all thought.

O love of God, how deep and great!
Far deeper than man’s deepest hate;
Self fed, self kindled, like the light,
Changeless, eternal, infinite.

O heavenly love, how precious still,
In days of weariness and ill,
In nights of pain and helplessness,
To heal, to comfort, and to bless!

O wide embracing, wondrous love!
We read thee in the sky above,
We read thee in the earth below,
In seas that swell, and streams that flow.

We read thee best in Him who came
To bear for us the cross of shame;
Sent by the Father from on high,
Our life to live, our death to die.

We read thy power to bless and save,
E’en in the darkness of the grave;
Still more in resurrection light,
We read the fullness of thy might.

O love of God, our shield and stay
Through all the perils of our way!
Eternal love, in thee we rest
Forever safe, forever blest.


Fr Michael Brown said...

I had a Requiem today which ended with Jerusalem!

gemoftheocean said...

Did you do the "Dark Satanic Mills" bit?

viterbo said...

reading the lyrics...what happened to that lovely rhyme..."green and pleasant hills" put so stephenfryally with "dark satanic mills"?

as an aside 'muggles' were a protestant sect in the days of the satanic mills. surely Mrs potter had heard of them.

Christian LeBlanc said...

Christian churches often don't regard Blake's poem as a hymn material. In my Catholic parish the organist will play the tune occasionally, but there's never any singing. I think these lyrics might pass muster, though, and have sent our choirmaster the link to this post.

Christian LeBlanc said...

My Catholic parish doesn't sing Blake's words, but we do hear Elgar's tune occasionally. I think these lyrics may pass muster, and I've sent our choirmaster the link to this post.

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