Monday, September 24, 2007


At the prompting of Jenny Mahler, I've decided to post some revised lyrics to various Catholic ditties. These are all borrowed from the Society for a Moratorium on the Music of Marty Haugen and David Haas, or SMMMHDH for short.

I am proud to be an honorary member of this group (my name appears in the roster list) but due to the high volume of applicants, there's been a "moratorium on the moratorium."

Anyway, here are a few of my favorites:

Gather Us In

Here in this place, our comfortable parish,
All of the statues carried away,
See in each face a vacuous visage,
Brought here by guilt or by R.C.I.A.

Gather us in, by Bimmer or Hummer,
Gather us in, so we can feel good,
Come to us now in this barren Zen temple,
With only a shrub and an altar of wood.

We are the young, our morals a mystery,
We are the old, who couldn't care less,
We have been warned throughout all of history,
But we enjoy this liturgical mess.

Gather us in, our radical pastor,
Gather us in, our unveiled nun,
Call to us now, with guitars and bongos,
Hang up your cellphones and join in the fun!

Here we will take some wine and some water,
Whether it changes, we really don't care.
But when the Sign of Peace comes, our pastor,
Jumps from the altar and hugs like a bear.

Gather us in, the privileged and snobby,
Gather us in, the liberal elite,
Help us to form our personal Credo,
Give us a choice between white bread and wheat.

A Ditty to God (after Dan Schutte's The City of God)

Awake from your slumber, arise from your sleep;
The homily's over, it wasn't too deep.
He spoke of a 'journey', well, what else does he say?
We're all part of a 'story' as we go on our way.

So let's sing a ditty to God,
It's a way we can all be together.
And we'll be the City of God
If we tell his story once more.

We're all part of a journey, to 'I-don't-know-where',
But that isn't important, so long as we're here.
Be part of the story of me and of you,
And don't worry asking if the story is true.

No, just sing a ditty to God,
It's a way we can all be together.
It would be a pity for God
If we told his story no more.

So come if you're ready, the meek and the smug,
For God is a Teddy, he'll give you a hug.
And take consolation, till next time we meet,
As you go on your journey, God's in the back seat.

So just sing a ditty to God,
It's a way we can all be together.
It would be a pity for God
If we told his story no more.

Gather Us In

Gather us in, the disheartened faithful,
force fed a watered-down liturgy.
Gone are the hymns that point us toward heaven
- courtesy of the OCP.

If I had pow'rs of telecombustion,
the songbook I hold would burst into flame.
Judging by those around me - not singing,
everyone else here feels just the same.


I envy the deaf who can't hear this music;
I envy the mute who don't have to sing.
I might "sing a new church into being"
if I knew just what the hell that means.


If I must hear this music much longer
I fear that I will surely puke.
Two-thousand years of church music history,
flushed down the john by Haas, Haugen, and Schutte.



Erin said...

Sad to say I am a victim I guess of loving a bunch of those songs....played them for years in choir and think the music is beautiful....laughed really hard at these revised lyrics though....

Tom & Carrie Herring said...


Yeah, they are definitely catchy tunes.

And most of them I don't mind listening to outside of the's just that they sometimes have questionable text.

I learned a lot from reading the introduction of the Adoremus Hymnal, put out by Ignatius Press.

You can find it here:

Quoting from Musicam Sacram, the Vatican Instruction from 1967, they say, "In addition to a sacred text, the music itself must possess three qualities: holiness (not simply popular music with a sacred text) and artistry (Musicam sacram §4a), and universality (Tra le sollecitudini §8)."

I think this is where some of those songs we grew up singing fall short...