Pronoun Problems

I see an interesting discussion unfolded last week at the Chant Café over that dreaded pronoun, “we.”

Nathan Knutson seems an earnest fellow. He seems to suspect various post-conciliar efforts at renewal. But God’s agency is undeniable:

Certainly God makes all things new.  Although God is often purposefully mislabeled, with references to Jesus as “I” and “you”.  Instead “We” became important, as so many disposable subscription pew books and hymnals continue to propose …

And from there a ctrl-V’ed list of some unattributed hymnal followed–all the titles and first lines that began with the word “We.” Some of those “we’s” aren’t really “we” at all, but “them.” Voice of the Three Kings or something.

Commentator John Quinn did something often I’d love to drop: many Scripture passages and citations of proper chants that use the word “we.”

The author might have been feeling defensive:

When we mention ourselves, we fall short of the purpose of Sacred music.

The purpose of music, as part of liturgy, is the purpose of liturgy: the glorification of God and the sanctification of people. I’m not sure what the problem is here. Surely the reform2 folks are not insinuating that their hearts are in the right and just place and that they never take the first person plural in vain, like all those non-chanting folks who are all just celebrating themselves when they vocalize on “we.”

The scramble was afoot. “We” isn’t so bad as long as there’s an explicit reference to Christ or God.

I suspect the effort in the essay and the apologist section of the commentariat was along the lines of this expression of the hermeneutic of subtraction:

And anyway, the classic example of anthropo-centric hymnody doesn’t have the word “WE” – it’s Gather Us In!

Oh golly. Missing the point that “us” is accusative case. Direct object. Object of God’s grace, something with which we hopefully cooperate no matter what pronoun we use.

Regardless of the words used, my sense is that many reform2 folks are themselves all about first-person plural despite their claim to be closer to God. When one group compares itself to another and stakes a claim to some kind of superiority, I’d say the godliness argument is totally out the window, oui?

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
This entry was posted in Hermeneutic of Subtraction, Liturgical Music, The Blogosphere. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Pronoun Problems

  1. charlesincenca says:

    See my article “The sky is not falling because of our songs” posted today at the Cafe.

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