Sunday, February 15, 2009

Binding with chords.

The lyrics in church music are just so weird. And at one level, that's probably ok, since they are meant to be art, and art is beautiful or not beautiful, ultimately, in the eyes or ears of the one experiencing it.

Maybe I'm just a poor appreciator.

For instance, the chorus to a song written in 2005 by Sandra McCracken, who by all appearances is a really nice person who's doing more to MTWABP than I am, goes

Rock of Ages, Rock of Ages
Bind your children 'til the kingdom comes
Rock of Ages
Your will be done.

One of the verses specifies that the cords are cords of love and grace

It reminds me of another old chorus by one Bob Gillman, written in 1977, when I was three years old, which some people still sing. It goes

Bind us together Lord, bind us together
With cords that cannot be broken
Bind us together Lord, bind us together
Bind us together with cords.

Back when I was on LOGOS II, I always used to replace "cords" with "chains" when I sang this song, because even back then it struck me funny.

Isn't is somehow seriously tweaking a metaphor to try to make binding with cords into a good thing? Where does this language come from? I mean I'm guessing Sarah got it from Bob. But where did Bob get it? Does anyone else have these troubles when they are in a church service and people are all singing these lyrics? I never see anybody else looking at all puzzled by these things.

I mean I suppose there is a certain group of fairly kinky situations which would still probably be reasonably "ok", even in a "Christian" paradigm, as long as the participants were married, where binding with cords could have a good connotation.

Is it a sort of strange takeoff on that verse from ecclesiastes about how two are better than one and a three braided rope is not easily broken?

It just seems to suffer from serious metaphor breakdown. I mean what do you first think of when you imagine people bound with cords? (One of the first things that comes into my head is Dick Cheney, hopefully with handcuffs on, standing trial for all the deaths and torture he facilitated. But that's a whole nother subject. (Technically that should be "an whole other", rather than "a whole nother", but the latter is the more common usage.))

And then it's worse because it's "Bind your children ... with cords." which for anybody whose spent anytime looking in the Jewish story from which Christianity springs instantly brings to mind the story of how Abraham bound his son Isaac with cords in preparation to use him as a human sacrifice. Seriously. I'm not making this stuff up.

Of course there's a good connotation to being bound together. I mean sticking together, loyalty, the bonds of eternal friendship or love, communal bonds, and so forth. I just don't get where the cords come in. The cords and the children. It just doesn't work for me at all. Ah well ...

9 comments:

gretta at lothlorien said...

We always have sung the last line as "Bind us together with love."

Benjamin Ady said...

yes, i wonder if these christian song lyrics are used by those in the kink scene?

Benjamin Ady said...

this is megs actually, even though it looked/s like it's bens!!

Joe said...

I've always been a little uncomfortable with this kind of song.

In church on Sunday we were asked to write new lyrics for worship songs.

'Oh God I really hate you...' is not often heard in church. I don't think the vicar saw the funny side.

Benjamin Ady said...

Gretta

Of course. My bad. Megs pointed this out to me already, and we both just cracked up laughing for a few minutes.

Joe,

I wish the vicar at our church did that sort of thing. You're awesome. A time to love and a time to hate, right?

Karin said...

Perhaps there is a good side to love which binds like 'cords that cannot be broken'. There is a place for duty born of love and strong bonds of love, but somehow I've found more emphasis on the duty and less on the love much of the time in churches I've been in. True love of any kind is ready to set the beloved free, if that is right for the beloved one, yet churches seem to want to control so much more often.

I used to love that song once a long time ago, but to be honest it's pretty bland, and I think the lyrics could have a darker side, depending who sings them.

Tony said...

Two of my particular favourites are "Dip your heart in the stream of life," from "All who are thirsty" by Brenton Brown and Glenn Robertson, and teh increidbly titled "We are Salt (Let it Rain)." The writer of this one is currently anonymous because I've just suffered a memory lapse.

Tony said...

Two of my particular favourites are "Dip your heart in the stream of life," from "All who are thirsty" by Brenton Brown and Glenn Robertson, and teh increidbly titled "We are Salt (Let it Rain)." The writer of this one is currently anonymous because I've just suffered a memory lapse.

byron smith said...

"...With chords that cannot be broken..."
Maybe this is what musicians sing?