Sunday, November 02, 2008

na na hey hey

The Olympics and our road trip to Branson and Arkansas must have distracted me from the interesting Catholic news that was released in mid-August. The two local priests I asked about it hadn't heard either. Maybe if the Diocese of Knoxville had a bishop, the information would have trickled down to us. My wife and I finally got tipped off when Fr. Gary Braun mentioned it after Mass last Sunday while we were in St. Louis.

The Vatican has decided that we are to no longer use the name Yahweh in prayers or songs during Mass. Or as one blog put it, "Ixnay on the Yahweh." The four Hebrew letters that represent Yahweh, YHWH, are known as the Tetragrammaton and are meant to be unpronounceable. Fr. Ragan Schriver explained to us tonight that the four consonants were combined with the vowels from "Adonai" to create the word "Jehovah" (or Jahovah).

Upon hearing the news, my wife immediately thought about all the times she sang "You Are Near" at funerals and other Masses. The hymn begins "Yahweh, I know you are near." That song was also part of my father's funeral all those years ago. As we walked to the car, we tried to think of a few two-syllable options to replace "Yahweh," including "Father" and "Abba." My wife soon came up with a better idea: "O Lord."

Dan Schutte
, the composer of "You Are Near," has written about the process of revising his famous hymn. After he "jotted down pages of possibilities" and consulted with friends and colleagues, his official revision is... "O Lord, I know you are near."

The first verse of Schutte's "Sing a New Song" now says "Shout for gladness! Dance for joy!" instead of "Yahweh's people dance for joy." The change for his "Yahweh, the Faithful One" will be more challenging, if not impossible.

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