A Lutheran friend of mine once quipped, when I was telling her about music in the Catholic Charismatic movement, “Does that mean that instead of ‘Jesus I just love you I just want to hug you’ they sing ‘Mary I just love you I just want to hug you’?” Chortle, chortle.
The Age this morning had a news item about a new song written to honour our upcoming Saint, Mary MacKillop, written by Gary Pinto, which it said was available on YouTube. I went searching for it, and I think this is the one they mean:
Nice enough, but it got me wondering about that chorus:
“And the grace of your spirit gives hope to our lives,
the grace of your spirit gives peace to our hearts,
Mary of the Cross, woman for our times, Blessed of God.”
It reminded me of a song by Brother Michael Herry (whose music I rather like, even though not all of it is appropriate for singing at mass) in honour of the founding saint of his Marist Order, St Marcellin “You are the One” in which the chorus is:
“You are the one
on fire with the Gospel,
you are the one
who saw with new eyes.
You are the one
we name as our Founder,
You are the one we claim,
claim as our saint.
Neither song actually says much about Christ or about God, but is (perhaps understandably) rather focused on the particular graces of the Saint to whom the song is being sung.
You could probably find quite a few songs to saints in the past that are similar, but the traditional “saint song” (eg. “Great St Joseph, Son of David“, “Hail Glorious St Patrick“, “St Theresa Flower of Grace” (not online)) do tend to refer us to the mystery of the Divine in some manner or other (eg. their role in salvation history or their intercession for God’s graces) rather than simply extol their particular virtues.
I am particularly uncomfortable about singing to Mary of the Cross about her “spirit” rather than God’s Spirit, or the repeated “you are the one” in the hymn to St Marcellin rather Christ who is “the One” who reveals God to us.
Perhaps it is just my latent Lutheranism showing through…