PARODY SONG ALERT: Gather Us In

A facetious reader sent the following:

"Straight from the pages of Facebook and a group called SLAP (Survivors of Liturgical Abuse in Parishes)"

Gather Us In [...to the tune of, that is!]

Here in this place, our comfortable parish,
All of the statues carried away,
See in each face a vacuous visage,
Brought here by guilt or by R.C.I.A.

Gather us in, by Beemer or Hummer,
Gather us in, so we can feel good,
Come to us now in this barren Zen temple,
With only a shrub and an altar of wood.

We are the young, our morals a mystery,
We are the old, who couldn’t care less,
We have been warned throughout all of history,
But we enjoy this liturgical mess.

Gather us in, our radical pastor,
Gather us in, our unveiled nun,
Call to us now, with guitars and bongos,
Hang up your cellphones and join in the fun!

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About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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37 Responses to PARODY SONG ALERT: Gather Us In

  1. catholicmidwest says:

    To the tune of the “Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.”

  2. Dr. K says:

    “With only a shrub and an altar of wood.”

    Many parishes don’t even have leaves or flowers on their shrubs; just a plant with bare branches. I don’t understand the progressive fascination with barren plants in churches. This is sometimes seen in the form of a bunch of sticks in a vase placed in front of the stained glass windows.

    ~Dr. K

  3. FrCharles says:

    Aha! How I wish people would hang up their cellphones in church!

    SLAP was founded by “Seminarian Z” whom you met, Fr. Z, at the requiem Mass last Friday night.

  4. EXCHIEF says:

    Nail hit squarely on head for most of our parishes unfortunately. In the rural area in which I live there are from a practical perspective only 3 parishes available and in heavy winter weather that narrows down, at best, to 2. All of them are “feel good” parishes. My wife and I lead the choir at the one parish we normally attend. Anything other than the 70′s folk type songs results in wrinkled noses. Latin? Forget it. The protestations are unrelenting. Even singing the Responsorial Psalm is not well received.

    Liturgical norms regarding music, how the altar should be vested, etc. are of no consequence. It’s all about how “we want everyone to feel welcome and comfortable and they are just not used to such changes”. Guess non of them were around pre Vatican II.

    It is demoralizing (as lay people) to see absolutely no receptiveness to things more in keeping with true Catholic teaching. But the leadership must come from the Pastor and the Bishop and in this era of dclining attendance and declining donations that just “ain’t happening”. Too afraid of anyone else dropping out and using the liturgy as an excuse.

  5. Here we will take some wine and some water,
    Whether it changes, we really don’t care.
    But when the Sign of Peace comes, our pastor,
    Jumps from the altar and hugs like a bear.

    Gather us in, uncatechized masses,
    Gather us in, the liberal elite,
    Help us to form our personal Credo,
    Give us a choice between white bread and wheat.

  6. wmeyer says:

    …I believe I have seen that in Breaking Bread.

    Or maybe it was simply many other similar travesties.

  7. Richard says:

    How swell it must be to be holier than thou (“thou” being the new translation of “the unwashed masses who think they are real Catholics”

  8. Massachusetts Catholic says:

    But it’s barely a parody. I’ve been to a church in an upscale suburb that is totally stripped to essentials — stark wood altar, plain linen cloth, Crate and Barrel wine glasses for chalices — that has a deaf interpreter sign the liturgy and the songs. Everyone waves their hands around (following the cantor’s lead) as they sing. A friend of mine calls it “Mass, The Musical.”

  9. Jayna says:

    Fantastic! And those are some great additional verses, Philip. But you can barely keep them in the pews before the priest processes out, you’ll never get to the extra verses!

    “Crate and Barrel wine glasses for chalices”

    We’ve got wooden cups for chalices.

  10. yatzer says:

    Thank you, Lord, for our wonderful priests and reverent Masses.

  11. JosephMary says:

    Brick by brick this is changing. This ‘old guard’ of the 70s is graying now. One day it will be the last day we will ever hear that awful ‘gather us in’ and other songs of that ilk again. I look forward to that.

    Yes, many of us have experienced the things that this parody brings to our attention.

  12. capchoirgirl says:

    The best parts about my new parish?
    1) No guitars
    2)veiled women
    3) statues galore
    AND…
    4) No GATHER US IN in the hymnal!!!!

  13. An American Mother says:

    “Gather us in, the eggs and the bacon,
    Gather us in, the pancakes and ham,
    Make us to be a well-balanced breakfast,
    Nourished with orange juice poured from a can.”

    - from the late and much-lamented website of the Society for a Moratorium on the Music of Marty Haugen and David Haas. Although my favorite is still “Here I am, Lord, here’s your pizza . . . .”

    There IS hope out here, though. Our parish is splendid, with a traditionally appointed church, reverent celebration, the Ordinary of the Mass chanted in Latin every First Sunday, and EXCELLENT music. We throw the hippies a bone with an occasional horrible hymn, but that’s all.

  14. I’ve said it before, but with my particular English accent, “Gather Us In” sounds an awful lot like “Gather a Sin”.

    Try scanning the lyrics with the alternate spelling and see what your reaction is.

  15. Peggy R says:

    Our parish, since we relocated from the wonderful Arlington diocese to be near family, is typical sappy-clappy. I was thrilled when it was announced we’d sing “We Gather Together” instead of “Gather Us In.” But OCP changed those words too. We gathered together to get the Lord’s blessing, not to “sing the Lord’s praises…” or worship him and all that boring stuff. We are here to GET STUFF. Sigh.

  16. Nathan says:

    How about another verse?

    One of our teens, she serves on the altar,
    Our only other, he plays bass guitar.
    Sister preaches in Crocs and a pantsuit,
    She reads it straight to us from NCR.
    Gather us in, the truly enlightened,
    Texts and rubrics are too much a fuss.
    We all eschew outdated religion,
    Our god is our bellies, our worship is Us.

  17. ghp95134 says:

    Last night I attended a “Jesus Prayer” seminar in a Northern California (Catholic) parish near San Jose. The first thing I noticed when entering the church was that there was no Crucifix present … alas, there was only a 20-ft. wall painting of Christ, arms raised above His head, where one would logically expect the main Crucifix. The Holy Sacrament was shunted off to the right of the altar. I thought for sure this was a Protestant church … except for the Stations of the Cross along the wall … Oops … okay; so, there was a Crucifix in the church.

    Contrary to the Protestant feel of the church, Father Ph.D. gave a very good Catholic talk peppered with references to “Lectio Divina” and “Pope Benedict XVI” … I wonder if I should continue to judge this book by its cover????

    Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

  18. patrick_f says:

    AWESOME!!. I picked up my guitar and played it for the wife. Since its like all modern liturgical music, it wreaks of 3/4 time and sounds of Pirate Shant, so easy to pick up

    Hilarious

  19. Hans says:

    @EXCHIEF

    If I can give you some advice on the musical front, having been in a similar situation: be patient. It takes time to wean people away from the pablum to proper music, but I’ve seen it more than once. Start with where they’re at and slowly shift away. Add more music that is familiar-but-acceptable (to you and to them) and drop the worst-offenders from your selections. “I’m sorry; I know you love singing Hey, God! Do It Our Way!, but it’s not quite appropriate to this week’s readings.” They never do.

    Just remember, we didn’t get into this mess overnight, and we won’t get out of it that fast either.

  20. psakal says:

    Granted that all music that is contemporary is not exactly liturgically correct, but there are those songs that do bring people up to the Divine, and I feel that they should not be shunned do to their modernness. I happen to play guitar at Mass and see the good side of the use of a guitar in a Mass setting. In fact I learned to play just to play at Mass. I feel that I am a conservative Catholic, but I do not exactly feel that it is a bad thing to have songs that are not of the organ and or the chant variety.

  21. Guadalupe says:

    This song needs no parody. The real words are as cringe-worthy as anything written in these comments. When this musical abomination is sung at Mass, I wonder if anyone is really understanding what they’re singing: “not in some heaven light-years away”. Light-years? Really? How can you sing that in church with a straight face?

  22. esquiress says:

    Our choir when I was growing up would sing this song on the rare Sunday of ordinary time where the director just didn’t have any better ideas for the processional. Of course we had our own version of the first line:

    “Here in the church, the choir is singing.
    This is the song that Father D hates”

    I liked the words when I was growing up, especially the part about the light-years away, mostly because it was the first thing that broke me of the description of heaven as a place where people play harps while floating on clouds. Of course that’s part of the problem with a lot of the lyrics of modern music: it arrests the theological understanding of parishioners somewhere around age 12 or age 13. There is a great article on this in the fall issue of Sacred Music by Patrick Cunningham for any who are interested.

  23. shalimamma says:

    This is HILARIOUS… and tragic at the same time. I have only been graced to worship in the Extraordinary form of the Mass for a year, and so I spent a good deal of my life singing songs like these… I am picturing the congregation smiling and joyful while singing this song (and tapping their feet) and I feel sad… We are indeed, sheep. And so many people think Gather us In is the highest musical praise. Hans’ comment is right… it will take time to slowly cleanse out the 70′s. But it will happen. ~shalimamma from lifevictorious.com

  24. shalimamma says:

    To ‘psakal’: I also used to play the guitar at Mass, and enjoy many forms of music. To me, it is not necessarily the music itself that is ‘evil’. After all, the pipe organ was a controversial instrument at one time. What is tragic about this music is not so much how it’s played or its tune, but the agenda behind it. Along with removing the tabernacle from the altar (and sometimes out of the church altogether), nuns wearing blue jeans, statues being removed, and people stretching all the way across the church to hold hands in the Our Father right after the highest point of the Mass, the words to much of the ‘modern’ music has served to deaden people to the reality of the True Presence and the Transcendent. This was not accidental. It was a plan to protestantise the Catholic Church so that you could hardly tell the difference between one church and another, and to take our focus OFF the Lord Himself, therefore weakening our holiness. The enemy is cunning, and music is a key part of his work to break down the body of Christ. (Have you listened to the top 40 recently?)

    Mass should be different, because He is truly present there. We can play guitar and rock out anywhere. (Secret: I rock out in the car) But at Mass, we shouldn’t be rocking out. Our hearts and souls should be lifted to the presence of God. And because we are incarnate beings, we need all the help we can get with that. Incense, beautiful statues, stained glass, and solemn music help us sinful creatures to stop, take a break from our loud lives and listen, and truly: worship. ~shalimamma from lifevictorious.com

  25. Felicitas says:

    Here in this place, a bad song is starting,
    Now will the altar turn into a stage.
    All that is holy is slowly departing,
    Making a way for the coming New Age.

    Gather us in, though we are like captives.
    But to miss Mass on Sunday, that would be wrong.
    But Lord hear our plea, regarding M. Haugen:
    Give him the courage to put down that bong.

    Dear Father Smith make a beeline procession,
    Run if you have to, make it real terse.
    If you can start this Mass very quickly,
    Maybe we’ll only have to sing but one verse.

    O Dear Lord Jesus, You are the Savior
    We’ve promised to follow, whatever the cost.
    But we didn’t know this song had been written:
    Would you terribly mind if we came off our cross?

  26. Legisperitus says:

    Gather a Sin (abbr. GAS?) was referred to by a nun in the very first issue of Latin Mass Magazine as a “cornfield ditty.” I’ve seldom heard such an apt phrase.

  27. Obumbrabit says:

    The page for the Society for a Moratorium on the Music of Marty Haugen and David Haas can still be viewed here:
    http://web.archive.org/web/20080331205738/http://www.mgilleland.com/music/moratorium.htm

    My favorite is Anthem of the Hymn Writers (after Tom Conry’s Anthem):

    We write hymns, we’re composers,
    We are fans of one another.
    We make hymn books for tomorrow
    While we rake in cash today.
    We’re the best, we’re the greatest,
    So our hymns are all you need.
    And our songs are all you hear in church,
    The only ones indeed.

    Ah! I have good memories of singing these songs growing up in the 90′s. I know better now.

  28. “I’ve said it before, but with my particular English accent, ‘Gather Us In’ sounds an awful lot like ‘Gather a Sin’.”

    Good one. I think I’ll sing it that way in church from now on.

    The version posted by the good Father is the best I’ve read so far, because it shows appreciation for the art of parody. Where lyrics of a song are concerned, this entails leaving in enough words and/or phrases from the original to make it sound authentic, then twist certain others for the desired effect. I will use three lines from the original song to demonstrate.

    Notice the original words of each line:

    We are the young, our ***** *** * mystery,
    We are the old, who **** *** **** ****,
    We have been ****** throughout all of history …

    These are enough to retain the “feel” of the song. Now the blanks are filled in to change the meaning.

    We are the young, our morals a mystery,
    We are the old, who couldn’t care less,
    We have been warned throughout all of history …

    Here endeth the lesson.

  29. Allena says:

    I was brought into the Church through RCIA, and songs like these. Although I do not find them to be correct for mass, I do think many of them are great for just plain singing, and I like them, but not during church. I think they can bring you to God, although they do reflect the masses we have so often, watery- bland and lacking in substance.

    The parodies are funny, but remember, as a Catholic of 7 years, who has 6 children
    (5 in those 7 years!) and is an officially labeled extremist and traditionalist wacko (lol) God can work miracles even with these songs! So, don’t despair, even with weak methods, liturgical abuse and all of the stupid songs (this is not one I would have named lol) God still converts sinners and brings them around.

  30. Hank_F_M says:

    I think one of the best ways to get rid of it is parodies.

    Bored of the Dance

    N>B> This is on the secular side.

  31. patrick_f says:

    “I was brought into the Church through RCIA, and songs like these. Although I do not find them to be correct for mass, I do think many of them are great for just plain singing, and I like them, but not during church. I think they can bring you to God, although they do reflect the masses we have so often, watery- bland and lacking in substance.

    You know you make an EXCELLENT point Allena. One can be traditional and still see the worth in some of this music

    What Catholics (in a broad expression) are missing, is we dont carry our faith out the doors with us. Alot of this newer music was written with a concert mentality, IE I am playing for a bunch of people rather then Almighty God. What parishes need to have, is Praise and Worship concerts (rather then Life Teen/Youth Masses). Make a festival out of it. Keep the mass what it needs to be. If you distinguish the two, both get put more adequately in their respective places. Plus, kids like concerts, and its an evangelical tool too. Some people are frightened by the mass (because of misconceptions), but everyone likes a show. If pastors realized it, the latter could be a stepping stone to the prior, or atleast a door open for questioning.

    What is comes down to is two things. One, teach that the mass is heaven on earth. I doubt when I enter the kingdom (after a lengthy purgation I am positive of), I doubt I will hear the Seraphic Choir singing “Not in some Heaven Light years away”. It would sound just simply idiotic.

    Likewise, I think the more upbeat music has a real place to reach out, and touch lives. There are some songs in Spirit and Song that are positively moving (The will of your Love, My Heart Belongs to you, etc). But they arent appropriate for mass.

    So that’s the second thing then, Teach that its ok to be joyful about your faith outside of Mass, but leave the mass itself for God. I like the example of Francis of Assisi. He wrote wonderful hymns, some of which might have been “modernist” for his time. But, I dont recall him steam rolling them into the mass. I dont recall him asserting himself in the church. In fact, in his humility, he only remained a Deacon, as he felt unworthy for priesthood. But that didnt stop his work OUTSIDE the church. He was called “God’s Minstrel” for a reason.

    When people call me traditionalist, I am quick to correct. I simply see myself as catholic. I dont like the labels, it further separates the Body of Christ (that doesnt mean I approve of the more liberal approaches mind you) But being catholic has a certain degree of set norms. Mass should be for God. But that doesnt mean you cant be Christian outside the church. Hopefully I havent spoken in too much of a circle here :)

  32. Janny says:

    “Our parish, since we relocated from the wonderful Arlington diocese to be near family, is typical sappy-clappy. I was thrilled when it was announced we’d sing “We Gather Together” instead of “Gather Us In.” But OCP changed those words too. We gathered together to get the Lord’s blessing, not to “sing the Lord’s praises…” or worship him and all that boring stuff. We are here to GET STUFF. Sigh”

    OCP has nothing to do with this except moderizing it (which is bad enough). The original traditional starting words to the hymn are “We gather together to ask the Lord’s blessing; / He chastens and hastens His will to make known…” “Sing the Lord’s praises” is actually the bastardization…not “get the Lord’s blessing.” Of the many things OCP has been guilty of watering down, at least they were closer with this one than “sing the Lord’s praises.”

    JB

  33. irishgirl says:

    The parodies are hilarious-and the odd thing is, I used to sing this when I was a cantor! Oh, well….

  34. Janny:

    I live in the Arlington Diocese as well. My “territorial parish” is run by a religious order, and is an active participant in errors against the Faith, despite disciplinary actions over the years. The common practice of our diocese is to ignore them in the hopes that they go away, and meanwhile allow transfers to a neighboring parish. We’ve got a few cheap imitators in our neck of the woods, mostly with pastors who are — well, not getting any younger. But you don’t have to settle for them. There is no contact e-mail on your blog. There is one on mine. Please contact me directly via e-mail, tell me whereabouts you live, and I will be happy to recommend a neighboring parish.

    Or you can go to the 12:00 Noon Traditional Mass at St John the Beloved in McLean. I’m not hard to spot.

  35. JimGB says:

    Brilliant parody. This happens to be one of my least favorite “hymns.” At my parish, the music director tends to mix the contemporary with the traditional, so we may have Gather Us In at the entrance and Holy God We Praise Thy Name as the recessional. But sometimes the entire hymn selection for Mass is Haugen-esque, which is always disappointing to me, especially when the music director leaves our magnificent pipe organ for a keyboard accompaniment. Also, out pastor, who has a nice singing voice, likes to remain at the altar long enough to sing all verses of the recessional hymn. When it happens to be “City of God” I am afraid I have to make an exit before the celebrant –just can’t take it!!

  36. lux_perpetua says:

    massachusetts catholic:

    “I’ve been to a church in an upscale suburb that is totally stripped to essentials—stark wood altar, plain linen cloth, Crate and Barrel wine glasses for chalices—that has a deaf interpreter sign the liturgy and the songs. Everyone waves their hands around (following the cantor’s lead) as they sing.”

    i fail to see why the sign language interpreter [presumably the interpreter himself is not deaf or he would be quite ineffective] deserves to be lumped in with the rest of these liturgical abuses. in fact, i fail to see how it is a liturgical abuse at all. i think that making the liturgy accessible to those with hearing disabilities, as well as inclusion of all those with disabilities, is one of the only good things that has come out of the hippy-dippy era. we must encourage this, not condemn it along the same lines as blasphemous hymns and self-centered worship

  37. Janny says:

    ManWithBlackHat:

    I’m not the one in Arlington who’s suffering. I merely quoted part of that post to clarify the lyric line of “We Gather Together.” :-)