Sunday, November 25, 2007

Soon and very soon

It's been too long since I have posted music.

In honor of the feast of Christ the King, and in happy response to Grandmère Mimi's post on Andrae Crouch's "Soon and Very Soon We Are Going To See the King," here is a version of the song. Thanks to Mimi for posting this link to Andrae Crouch in her Comments section.

At St. Columba Catholic Church in Oakland, we ROCKED it with that song, the whole congregation, on our feet singing and clapping with the wonderful choir under the director of Rawn Harbor, one of the great African American liturgical musicians. St. Columba was the last RC parish of which I was a member before emigrating to the Episcopal Church, and it continues to have a special place in my heart. I still have friends there and return to visit when I can.

And now I am going to be obnoxious and quote myself.

In my book When in Doubt, Sing: Prayer in Daily Life (several years out of print thanks to the neglect of HarperCollins, but soon and very soon I will have good news about new life for this book, and we won't have to wait till the Parousia for that one) I have a chapter called "Pronouns, Poets, and the Desire for God: Language and Prayer." As you can imagine, much of the chapter is about gender and the language of prayer, but the chapter is about the broader issue of God-language in prayer and also addresses questions of the images of light and dark we use as well as all the "king" business that causes so many preachers headaches on this feast. (Kevin, our Chaplain at St. Mary's House, Greensboro, alluded to this problem with the king-word today at in his sermon.)

Here is some of what I wrote on the latter topic, and it's related to this song and to my friends of the St. Columba community.

Sometimes context makes a difference: language does not sing or grate in a vacuum but in a social setting. For three years now, I have heard and sung the Andrae Crouch gospel hymn "Soon and very soon, we are going to see the King" at St. Columba. I used to be uncomfortable with it: royal images of Jesus and God have never sat well with me as a woman or as an American, though I understand the irony in the Gospels, where Jesus tries to explain to the befuddled disciples that his kingdom is not the one they expect, but a realm of a different order. But "king" takes on a different meaning in a community of oppressed people -- oppressed in their ancestral uprooting and enslavement, oppressed by economic barriers and racist attitudes and institutions today. This king of whom we sing at St. Columba in Oakland relativizes the rulers of the world --which of course is one of the purposes of the Catholic feast of Christ the King (one of the days, in addition to the Sundays in Advent, on which we sing this hymn). No king, emperor, president, kaiser, duce, führer, prime minister, or secretary general has ultimate power over our lives - only God. Now "power-over" claims our allegiance, but rather the revolutionary love-power of Jesus.

**************Jane Redmont, When in Doubt, Sing: Prayer in Daily Life, 172. (Published in 1999, but I wrote this sometime around 1998.)

6 comments:

Kirstin said...

I love this song! Thanks.

Grandmère Mimi said...

Jane, that's so right. Jesus, the very different kind of king, will rescue the oppressed in his upside down kingdom and the last shall be first and the least of these will have preferment.

johnieb said...

I didn't want to wait for the parousia nor for HarperCollins, thus I tracked down a used copy, though I've not yet read it. If the guilt gets too much to bear, I'll send you a bit of Royalty (Pun? Me?) when the reprint emerges.

Or maybe a nice truffle.

Yeah, I love the song, too, and TBTG, we have enough Black congregants to nudge us towards Rockin, though as White CT Yankees, we feel we must look sheepish, as if to say "This is nice, but it's not really us" while doing so.

Jane R said...

Stay tuned for reprint news. More I cannot say until there is contractual ink on dotted lines.

And bear in mind that the HarperCollins edition has a few egregious typos made by the copyeditors. I was livid. I gave them a pristine copy of the ms and they wrecked it. Don't get me started. {{Takes deep breath and sip of afternoon tea, ruffles papers on desk, rolls eyes, takes second sip of tea.}}

If you're rocking and clapping from the heart, bro, it's fine.

Linda Post Bushkofsky said...

Jane:

Just wanted you to know that your book, When in Doubt, Sing, is one of my favorite books on prayer. It's in a selected bibliography that I use in a workshop I regularly give on prayer.

Linda Post Bushkofsky
Executive director, Women of the ELCA
www.womenoftheelca.org

Linda Post Bushkofsky said...

Jane:

Just wanted you to know that your book, When in Doubt, Sing, is one of my favorite books on prayer. It's in a selected bibliography that I use in a workshop I regularly give on prayer.

Linda Post Bushkofsky
Executive director, Women of the ELCA
www.womenoftheelca.org