As Iron Sharpens Iron

An ongoing and online discussion between: an Orthodox informed Ecumaniac without a denominational home, an ordained Baptist youth pastor with an open mind, a Calvinist worship leader/seminarian with a staggering vocabulary and ability to make a point, and a cradle Catholic with a love/hate relationship to Rome.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Isaiah 64 Song


The other day, in church, we used verses 1-4 of Isiah 64 as a responsive reading:
O that thou wouldst rend the heavens, and wouldst come down:the mountains would melt away at thy presence.They would melt as at the burning of fire, the waters would burn with fire,that thy name might be made known to thy enemies:that the nations might tremble at thy presence.When thou shalt do wonderful things, we shall not bear them:thou didst come down, and at thy presence the mountains melted away.From the beginning of the world they have not heard, nor perceived with the ears:the eye hath not seen, O God, besides thee, what things thou hast prepared for them that wait for thee.
It really grabbed my attention.  The violence of God's appearing made for some powerful versage.  This is not a friendly "Father Weejus."  No, this is a Chuck Norris, ass-kicking, fire-bomb of a God who breaks things just by appearing.  Think Black Bolt saying, "Hello."  

Immediately, a rhyming couplet appeared in my head:
Rip the air, split the sky
Condescend to us, Most High
I wrote it down on an offering envelope and stuffed it in my pocket.  About two months later, I came across it again and decided to finish it.  Here's what I came up with:
Rip the air, split the sky
Come down close with us, Most High
Break the bricks of this hick-town
Burn us with your coming down. 
Mountains melt before Your face
Boil the oceans in Your grace
Name unspoken now we know
Crush this house to make Your home
or
(Name unspoken now is known
Crush this house to make Your own)
Pot and cowbell, plow and sword
Sign them "Holy to the Lord"
Blazing in your endless Day
Even virtue burns away 
Sear our souls with holy flame
Brand our stone hearts with Your name
Bruise our bent and twisted soul
Batter, break and make us whole  
Who, from olden-days, has heard
Such a strange and wondrous Word
None have seen a God so great
Come to rescue those who wait 
Father, hear the hymn we raise
Son and Spirit, hear our praise
Three-in-One and One-in-Three
Highest, holy Trinity
Even as I worked on it, I could tell that I wanted to keep the language simple, like a cowboy's hymn, but with substance.  Also, I wanted to include some other elements.  There's a line in Flannery O'Connor's short story "Revelation" where the "good" people are following the freaks up to heaven, but notice that even their own "virtues were burned away."  I also had John Donne's "Holy Sonnet XIV" in mind:
Batter my heart, three-person'd God ; for you
As yet but knock; breathe, shine, and seek to mend;
That I may rise, and stand, o'erthrow me, and bend
Your force, to break, blow, burn, and make me new.
I, like an usurp'd town, to another due,
Labour to admit you, but O, to no end.
Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend,
But is captived, and proves weak or untrue.
Yet dearly I love you, and would be loved fain,
But am betroth'd unto your enemy;
Divorce me, untie, or break that knot again,
Take me to you, imprison me, for I,
Except you enthrall me, never shall be free,
Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me. 
And the following verses of Scripture:
In that day that which is upon the bridle of the horse shall be holy to the Lord:and the caldrons in the house of the Lord shall be as the phials before the altar.And every caldron in Jerusalem and Juda shall be sanctified to the Lord of hosts:and all that sacrifice shall come, and take of them, and shall seethe in them:and the merchant shall be no more in the house of the Lord of hosts in that day.
- Zechariah 14:20-21
And he shall judge the Gentiles, and rebuke many people:and they shall turn their swords into ploughshares,and their spears into sickles:nation shall not lift up sword against nation,neither shall they be exercised any more to war.
- Isaiah 2:4 
And he shall judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations afar off:and they shall beat their swords into ploughshares,and their spears into spades:nation shall not take sword against nation:neither shall they learn war anymore.
- Micah: 4:3
The form of what I was writing seemed familiar.  As I began thinking about a tune to which I could sing it, I realized a tune already existed, the theme to the sadly short-lived Joss Wheedon space-western, "Firefly."  Here is the song and the lyrics:  


Take my love, take my land
Take me where I cannot stand
I don't care, I'm still free
You can't take the sky from me 
Take me out to the black
Tell them I ain't comin' back
Burn the land and boil the sea
You can't take the sky from me 
There's no place I can be
Since I found Serenity
But you can't take the sky from me...
I have to admit, it looks like I did that deliberately, but I didn't!  But, is it too similar? Does it negate the act of creation that I had something so similar running in the back of my head while creating it? Or is that the only real creation (because it is sub-creation)? To simple for worship? Should I use "condescend to" instead of "come down low with"? Any thoughts are appreciated.