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Monday, June 17, 2013

Songstories 11: Like You (Mystery, NALR, 1987)

I have been crucified with Christ;
yet I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me...(Gal. 16:20)

If you're like me, then there are probably key passages in the New Testament that have stuck in you over the years and that shape your thinking, formation, and action as a Christian. Certainly as a songwriter, and one who has to think theologically when writing original lyrics, the section from Galatians read in Catholic and other Common Lectionary churches yesterday is one of those passages. Few passages capture as dramatically for me the transformation of the person created by baptism than Paul's assertion here. 

The idea that baptism transforms a person completely, and that life is a process of unfolding that transformation in the world, runs through a lot of my lyrics. It's a fine line to attempt to sing about this without sounding deluded on the one hand or triumphalistic on the other. One tries to keep in mind that whatever is done in us, baptized or not, isn't our doing, but God's. God enables our transformation by love. God sustains us in life. And through it all, God rescues us from the effects of our sin, a reality that causes setback after setback for us, and for good measure, blocks the response of others to the good news of the gospel by making it invisible to them.

In the late 1980s, Christian radio was coming into its own, and contemporary Christian music was a hot commodity. Breaking into that field was never really an option for Catholic artists (at least in those days) because the medium was controlled by Christian evangelicals, and they weren't interested in most Catholic artists. That didn't mean, however, that the influence didn't flow in the other direction, and music by contemporary Christian artists like Amy Grant, Sandi Patty, Steven Curtis Chapman, and Michael Card among many others found its way into the eclectic Catholic repertoire, and certainly has influenced the style of songwriters for the last quarter century.

In the days I was writing the music that became the CD Mystery, I wanted to try my hand at that kind of writing, mostly because Gary Daigle and his group at the Casa were so good at performing it, and I thought it would give Terry a change to sing in a little bit of a different style than most of what we had been recording. That's where "Like You" comes in. Gary's Casa band, with Jim Whitaker on keyboard, the late Bob Warren on drums, the amazing Matt McKenzie on bass, and Gary himself on electric guitar, laid down a great rhythm track for Terry to sing on. She sounds terrific on the track and...

...that's pretty much where it stayed! We rarely have done this song in concert, even more rarely at worship services. But still, when I hear it, it makes me smile for those younger days when it was OK to write songs, and create albums, of Catholic music that people might want to listen to, in addition to singing in their churches, with choirs and organs and ensembles. That's what I still want to do, but it's getting harder and harder in this time of transition to new media on one hand and suspicion of creativity in worship and music on the other. 

I hope I'm around when all of this resolves itself! Meanwhile, here are the lyrics, and the Soundcloud link above, to "Like You." The lyric takes off from the Galatians verse cited above, and includes a snippet of the Suscipe of St. Ignatius as well as of a prayer of Bl. John Gabriel Perboyre, a Vincentian martyr, one that I learned in my years of formation with that community.

Like You, by Rory Cooney

Now I live no longer for myself,
But Jesus lives in me.
Spirit, live in me.
Now I know the gifts I have belong to someone else.
Use me, Lord. Choose me, Lord.
Make me like yourself, make me like yourself.

I want to be like you,

Hope for the hopeless, bread for hungry lives.
I want to be like you,
Friend of the friendless, light for sightless eyes.
I want to be like you:
A child of the Spirit whose Father loves him/her well,
A word of calm against the storm whose winds blow out of hell.

Let my hands be your hands, Jesus, please.

Let my heart be your heart. Think your thoughts in me.
Lord, accept my freedom. Heal my memory.
Your loving touch is grace enough
And all I'll ever need. You're all ever need.

I want to be like you:

Joy for the captive, fire for hearts grown cold.
I want to be like you:
Voice of the story of love that won't grow old.
I want to be like you
And see that my dying will bring a bright new birth,
To end the reign of death and pain
And heal the heart of earth.

I want to be like you

And look for the promise that hides beneath the pain.
I want to be like you
And see in the sowing the golden fields of grain.
I want to be like you
And offer your people a chance to be made new.
Take me, Lord. Remake me, Lord.
I want to be like you.
I want to be like you.

 © 1989, North American Liturgy Resources. Assigned to Rory Cooney 2002.

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