Monday, March 16, 2009

Problems of "On Eagle's Wings"

Thanks Priorstf for the Bible quote. I could not have found this. So the Bible do mention 'Eagle' and the 'wings'. But it still seems to be a different concept from the song, "And he will raise you up on eagle's wings." (Also my Bible has a slightly different translation of this verse.) I read further and what follows after the verse 4 in Exodus seems to be important though,
Exodus 19:4 "You saw what I, the Lord, did to the Egyptians and how I carried you as an eagle carries her young on her wings, and brought you here to me.
5 "Now, if you will obey me and keep my covenant, you will be my own people.."
The song "On Eagles Wings'' doesn't seem to imply the verse 5, 'if you will obey.." Maybe Fr. Joncas meant it in the song when it says "say to the Lord " my refuge, my rock in whom I trust." To the people who trusting God means also following and obeying Him, this makes sense, but to those who just want to 'trust' Him, no matter what they do or (did in the past especially in the funeral) can give a false idea of 'trust,' the idea of 'trust 'that they will be ok, because God is generous and merciful. Somebody mentioned in the other thread, because we feel sympathy at the funeral for the loss of loved ones, we might be making everyone a 'saint' when s/he dies. And this song seems to be highliting that idea. Maybe that's why it is popular, very 'comforting' in disguise for many, besides having a pop-style tune. (which I found too much of 'saccharine,' as someone said above. Plus each verse starts with a different rhythm and whenever we have this, the congregation cannot really sing together well. They kind of mumble away, especially the beginning of verse 2, 3 and 4, even the cantor gets very confused. Everyone sings with a different rhythm. I remember banging at the notes to keep them together. Also remember to go to 'coda' at the last time. What if you have to cut the verse, what do you do? I remember making different 'nodding' contract with the cantor as an accompanist, but still didn't agree on how we end this song. What a nightmare. And the pitch range of the song. I really don't think this is for the congregational singing. Fr. Joncas, I believe, said this song was from his personal devotion. He never intended this song to be for a congregational singing, which I agree 100%. (I can see a small group of people who are attracted to this type of music, sing together for their devotion, with the correct understanding of the texts and with mutual agreement in musical aspects, but outside the liturgy.)
Anyway, in the interview I read, Fr. Joncas didn't want this song to be in his funeral, neither do I. The MD should be able to select liturgical music for the mass, and I don't believe this is a liturgical music to be in the Holy Mass. Should we have this kind of music in the liturgy, just because people sing and has some familiar words from the Bible? People might sing, but most likely very poorly. Because those who 'actively sing' would not be bothered by others around make that 'joyful' (or rather painful) noise, and misinterpret the easy sing along texts. How long do we need to continue this? And since when the liturgy is seen as a shouting and cheering parade?And why the 'noise?' when we can and should spend time to learn to make beautiful prayers. It really doens't matter whether you have a 'unique' voice of not. We can all learn to sing as 'one voice.' It's the idea of how you take music seriously and take time to put effort to make it beautiful. I think that effort is more beautiful, because you sacrifice your time for God. Sacrificing time seems to be one of the most difficult thing for modern people, especially when you have to make a fairly long time commitment, such as music learning. Music learning cannot be happened instantly even in an amature level. I think the local churches should really start taking music seriously, starting with the pastor and MD, and support music literacy and music education for the congregation.
(Well, in the situation where you will be out from your job if you don't, because the pastor insists of having this kind of song, which is very sad but seems to happen a lot, I guess you have to make a situational decision? I really cannot say much about that.)

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