Friday, February 22, 2008

Grumbling about music

Well, it's February and it's dark and dreary and disgusting out. And since we're sort of mid-way between festivals, it's a good time to complain about music.

2 objects of complaint. One a hymn, and one a song. Of course a hymn is a song, but a song is not -- necessarily -- a hymn. But these are bad, and each is associated with a festival: one a secular Christmas song, and the other a much-loved (in Lutheran circles, at least) Transfiguration hymn.

The first is "Here Comes Santa Claus," written in 1947 by Gene Autrey, and for this act alone, the man deserves to be thrown off a ship. The song has inane lyrics, a Chinese water-torture kind of melody, and is just horrible, and yet the thing starts blasting out daily, sometimes hourly on radio stations as soon as Halloween is over.

For anyone who has had the good fortune to have never heard this piece, I'm going to break your string of good luck. Listen up:

The next is " 'Tis Good, Lord, to Be Here" (LSB 414) I know it's a little like saying that your grandma's ugly to say that this hymn is ugly, but it is. Again, a Chinese water torture tune, but what makes me insane is verse 5: "But since Thou bidst us leave the mount, Come with us to the plain." OK, maybe this is petty, but when, ever, did Christ bid the Apostles to "leave the mount"? I'll give you five centuries to look for it, but there's none. It's just one of those irritating throw-away lines, likely designed to "finish off" the story of the Transfiguration, despite the fact that the Bible has a maddening tendency to sometimes leave stories unfinished.

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