A Song Trilogy for Grief – and Grace

It is hard to respond to the announcement out of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (and approved by Pope Francis) that the Catholic Church will remain steadfast in denying the blessing of marriage to Catholics in same-sex unions. The message is an affront to Jesus and to the Gospel. Its impact will be measured in blood, despair, and deaths. Yet also in resistance and fresh declarations of God’s love – as here.

Rather than write an essay, I offer three songs as a balm in this moment. The lyrics are below, along with an audio clip so you can hear each one – with gratis to Sara Kay for these beautiful renditions. All songs from my CD.

Hearts on Fire

This hymn was written for the 2008 Lutherans Concerned/North America Assembly; its chosen theme was “Hearts on Fire.” The hymn sets the journey of LGBTQ Christians within the story of Emmaus and becomes a strident anthem about LGBTQ Pride today, from its secular expression in Stonewall to its ecclesial expression in the struggle for same-sex blessings and ordination.

Audio: Hearts on Fire

As if in the upper room, as if in God’s holy womb
As we celebrate this meal, as God’s welcome we reveal,
Hearts on fire, Christ’ desire, that our faith be born anew,
And the kin-dom of our God be ever true, ever true.
Here we gather, glad we say, Christ is with us here today.
In the stories that we tell, hear the Holy Wind now swell.
Hearts on fire, soaring higher, comes the Dove on flaming tongue,
Dreams and visions for our old and for our young, for our young,

Once our people lived in fear, once our hope was hard to hear,
Once our lives were framed by fright, ’til that Pentecostal night.
Hearts on fire, holy choir, of a most surprising tune
In the Stonewall cries of pride that distant June, distant June.
From the alleys running scared, from the brutal hate laid bare,
To a sanctuaried space, to the claiming of our place.
Hearts on fire, we aspire, find our missing Body parts
And re-member – every member – whose we are, whose we are.

From the moment that we dare, ask another’s life to share,
Mid the people gathered round, as our lives in love are bound.
Hearts on fire, steepled spires, tolling loud for life-long love,
Witnessed by the church below and God above, God above.
Now the One who knows all needs, on good soil sows good seed,
From the ground some grain is lured, to the Table and the Word.
Hearts on fire, Christ’ desire that this Body be made whole,
In the calling and the placing of the stole, of the stole.

Text: © 2008 David R. Weiss
Tune: Carl Schalk, b. 1929, Thine (Thine the Amen, Thine the Praise), © 1983 Augsburg Publishing House, admin, Augsburg Fortress.

*        *        *

We are your soil

This hymn text was written for the Goodsoil worship at the 2005 ELCA Churchwide Assembly in Orlando. The theme of the Assembly was “Marked with the Cross of Christ Forever”; hence the use of that image here. Also, I draw on the image of “Goodsoil” (the name taken by the alliance of groups working to promote full participation for GLBT people in the ELCA), specifically naming “gay and straight” and “bi and trans” as the “good soil” in which God sows seeds still today. And I ironically invoke the image of “Solid Rock,” the name taken by those opposing full participation, suggesting that ultimately even this solid rock will sing hosanna at Christ’s coming. This hymn uses a newer fast-paced tune, “Du är Helig” (“You are holy”) by Per Harling that appears in the new Lutheran hymnal.

Audio: We are Your Soil

Who are we?—Lord, we are yours!  We are marked forevermore
By the cross and by the word.  In our hearts we’ve been stirred.
Darkness round us, still we sing; To the promise still we cling.
Waiting for the coming dawn; Solid rock turned to song.
We are good soil; we are your soil.
Sow your justice / In Christ’s body still today!
Let compassion fill our lives, Lord.
Rocks and stones, now, / Sing hosanna to our God!

Who are we?—Lord, we are yours!  We were baptized at the font,
Water splashing on our face, Marked forever by grace.
Gay and straight, we sing your praise.  Bi and trans, our voices raise.
To the feast you bid us dine; Welcome bread, welcome wine.
We are good soil; we are your soil.
Sow your justice / In Christ’s body still today!
Let compassion fill our lives, Lord.
Rocks and stones, now, / Sing hosanna to our God!

Text: © 2008 David R. Weiss
Tune: Per Harling, b. 1945, Du är Helig (You are Holy), © 1990 Ton Vis Produktion AB, admin. Augsburg Fortress.

*        *        *

O Christ Who Came

This hymn text uses the beautiful haunting tune “Londonderry Air” (most well-known for the Irish Ballad, “Danny Boy,” but also for the hymn, “O Christ the Same”). The imagery is triune, picturing Christ as present through the Hebrew prophets, in Jesus’ ministry, and in the activity of the Holy Spirit … from Pentecost to the present. This is a hymn text, blended with music, that touches heaven.

Audio: O Christ Who Came

O Christ who came / through ancient prophet voices
Declaring hope / when hope was all but spent
Who offered life / to those beyond our choices,
Whose words beyond / our foolish wisdom went.
O Burning Bush / aflame for all creation,
Who bids us all / to turn aside and see;
O Christ who came / in hope that we might hasten
Your kin-dom come / and set your people free.

O Christ who came / to fisher-folk confounded
yet left at once / their boats and nets behind
To join your work / of holy hope unbounded
Good news proclaim / and captives to unbind.
O Christ the Text / the Word of God brought to us
Who spread the feast / and beckoned all to dine;
O Christ who came / determined to renew us
Your kin-dom come / in water, bread, and wine.

O Christ who came / in rushing Wind of Spirit
In Pentecost / of welcome flaming bright
Unstop our ears / that we might finally hear it;
Soften our hearts / as well, restore our sight.
O Calling God / whose voice is never ending,
Whose hope is strong / whose Spirit yet does roam;
O Christ who comes / in all we are befriending
Your kin-dom come / your children welcome home.

… O Christ who comes / in welcome wide extending,
Now through our lives / invite your children home.

Text: David R. Weiss, b. 1959 © 2008 David R. Weiss
Tune: Traditional Irish, Londonderry Air (O Christ the Same) – public domain.

*        *        *

David Weiss is a theologian, writer, poet and hymnist, doing “public theology” around climate crisis, sexuality, justice, diversity, and peace. Reach him at drw59mn@gmail.com. Read more at www.davidrweiss.com where he blogs under the theme, “Full Frontal Faith: Erring on the Edge of Honest.” Support him in writing Community Supported Theology atwww.patreon.com/fullfrontalfaith.

One thought on “A Song Trilogy for Grief – and Grace

  1. Thanks david, the previous Pope Benedict used this doctrinal
    Group in the Vatican to do some ugly things. I am disappointed that
    Pope Francis went along with this group . It goes against his spirit
    Of welcome.

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