Gather Us In Critique Thread

There is another thread about Catholic hymns in this section of CAF. I suggested that we start a new thread to discuss specifically the rather controversial hymn, “Gather Us In” rather than derail that thread.

I’m not sure if it’s OK to post words to hymns here. If you Google “Gather Us In,” you can find several sites that post the words. I am referring to our parish hymnal, " Gather."

I happen to love this hymn, although I know from past threads that many Catholics detest “Gather Us In.”

In the other thread, verse 4 was quoted: “Not in the dark of buildings confining, Not in some heaven light years away, But here in this place, the new light is shining, Now is the Kingdom, now is the day.”

I personally find this verse extremely Catholic.

Although the Catechism talks about “sacred buildings”, I have learned in the Catholic Church that the Kingdom of God is not a building, but in God’s People, those of us who have been baptized into Jesus Christ and believe in Him. Because we receive Jesus Himself in the Eucharist, we carry the Kingdom of God outside the church doors into a lost and needy world.

However, many Catholics (and Protestants too) are guilty of compartmentalizing. Their secular life goes into one compartment, and their spiritual life goes into another compartment, and they don’t want the two to interfere with each other.

They go to church and do “religious things,” then walk out the door and forget all about God until the next time they go to church. This isn’t right. This is not what the Kingdom of God is!

And that’s what this verse is saying, “Not in the dark of buildings confining…”

Jesus is the Light of the World, yes. But in Matthew 5: 14Jesus tells us that WE are the light of the world. Of course we are, with Jesus in us.

As for the comment “Not in some heaven, light-years away”–again, IMO, this is a condemnation of the thinking that sees Christianity as something “up there,” a “pie in the sky after I die” that has nothing to do with our daily lives here on this earth. That’s just not true.

The Bible and the Catechism make it clear that to live is Christ (and to die is gain). We don’t just accept Christ, then do whatever we please until we die and go to heaven.

Of course, it’s rather silly to discuss the fourth verse of “Gather Us In.” In most Catholic churches (but not all!) that I’ve been in, they only sing the first two verses anyway. In fact, I’ve decided that if and when I ever write a Catholic hymn (I’ve written Protestant songs), that I will only write two verses!

I love that song. I don’t understand why people raise such a big stink about hymns which we only sing about 2 verses. However, if music were completely taken out of mass, I would be happy.

Well, I’m one of those people who hates that song with the fire of a thousand suns.

To me, a Catholic Church (building) is *not *just another building. It’s not even just another *church *building. It’s the Home of God on Earth. It’s the house of the Real Presence. It is special. That’s why we are there (presumably) on a Sunday, worshiping. Otherwise, we could “worship” at home.

I really object to the words “not in some heaven, light years away.” This sounds like the song writer is mocking Christians and Christian teaching. Of COURSE there is a Heaven. That verse just sounds like my atheist fil making fun of Catholics. I object to the term “some” heaven. As I said, it just sounds mocking and belittling.

The goal, as you said, is not to “believe” and then ignore Jesus and assume you get to Heaven. But to flippantly sing “not in ‘some’ heaven” during Mass is just beyond the pale to me.

I really dont care what the lyrics are but I think the song sounds cool.

I hate that song with the fire of a thousand suns too. But this past Easter we had the ultimate blasphemy. Our terrible guitar group sang Lord of the Dance as the final hymn on Easter Sunday. Picture me running out of Mass before they got to the end of the first line.

I hear you, but I guess I look at the subtlety of “some heaven” versus “Heaven” i.e. a kingdom that starts in this world.

Not to derail, but as an aside: What’s that communion song that has the line “look beyond the bread you eat, see your Savior and your Lord.” Do you know what song I’m talking about? Do you see a little problem here?

I’m not eating “bread” I’m eating the Body of Christ, which is a mystery, but a spiritual reality to be sure. But, we belt this one out just the same.

But, after all, doesn’t Paul say in 2 Co, that the “bread we eat, is it not a communion with the body of Christ?”

And, in some places, don’t we call the Sacrament the Bread of Heaven?

does the bread become Jesus? or does Jesus become bread? (yes, I know).

The point is, there is some artistic license here, I guess. The Church seems to have some move afoot to list the approved hymns, so maybe some of this will go away, of course, we’d have to use the darned thing to be sure.

Anyway, when somebody puts lyrics like “light years” into a hymn, I ask what’s next? “Rhythm” as in “I’ve got rhythm?” “Rhythm” is the way for me? Let me hum a few bars for you…

sorry the tune sounds like the theme for a TV show, probably a situation comedy on the family channel about a blended family, and the words of at least the first verse imply that everyone can partake of communion, which is wrong, misleading and uncharitable.

For those who may not be able to place the tune, you can listen to it HERE


What’s wrong with “light years?” :confused:

This generation grew up on Star Wars and Star Trek. We’ve been to the moon and we dream of space travel.

I like it when modern hymn writers bring scientific terms into their hymns. I think it’s a lot more comprehensible to younger people than ancient hymns.

I wrote a song called “Abraham’s Allstars” that’s filled with space terms. It’s a cool song.

I’m not saying we should jettison the ancient and allow only the modern. I like a mix of different styles.

But frankly, I’m not impressed by Latin. To me, it’s a foreign language and although I can follow along in my handy missal, I don’t get off on listening to a foreign language. I know that a lot of Catholics get the heebie jeebies when they hear Latin hymns, and they get all emotional and it helps them grow closer to God.

Not me. Call me a Protestant convert who just doesn’t get it–hey, that’s exactly what I am! I don’t mind if you all get a Latin high once in a while, but I’m glad that most Catholic churches in the U.S. don’t do Latin all the time. I’m all for Vatican II and their admonition for us to worship in our language. I can’t see the thrill in listening to stuff in a foreign language unless I am visiting a foreign country e.g., the Vatican.

So like I said, “what’s wrong with light years?”

I strongly disagree with the person who criticizes Gather Us In because it seems to invite all to participate in Communion.

So what’s wrong with that?

Don’t we want everyone in the world to be gathered into the Catholic Church? Don’t we want to invite the world to be gathered in with us and receive Jesus?

When I was Protestant and heard this song, I was filled with the desire to be “gathered into” the Catholic Church so that I could partake of the Eucharist.

The song doesn’t say “Hey, everyone, help yourself to the Lord’s Body and Blood.” I don’t see that at all. I didn’t see that when I was Protestant.

It’s a prayer asking the Lord to “Gather Us In.”

As an ex-Protestant, I sing this prayer loudly and passionately whenever I get the chance. I long for my Protestant brothers and sisters to be “gathered in” so that they can join us at the Table of the Lord.


“Mass” means “sending” and the original concept was to gather the Christian faithful together to prepare them to go out into the world to live and preach the gospel message. It was never intended to be “the” place of worship, but a place to gather our strength for the journey ahead.

Again, right on the money.

That is exactly what we’re praying in the Lord’s Prayer when we say “…thy kingdom come…on earth as it is in heaven.” Heaven is not meant to be just an ultimate destination, but a lived goal of our earthly existence. The “already, but not yet”. If we’re not experiencing some of that heaven here on earth, perhaps we are not taking enough time to quiet ourselves in God’s presence, to allow Him to show us His glory.

I have to admit that it’s not my favorite song, possibly because most of the time it seems to be done in such a dreary way. Of course that is usually a function of less than inspirational musicians who seem able to turn the most joyous of songs into funeral dirges. :rolleyes:

Good insights Cat!

I don’t like the song. It gives me a gag reflex. I could go into more details about the weird lyrics, but mostly I can sum up my feelings by using a word my husband and I frequently employ:

“Froofsville” It’s just a froofy song. I can’t take it seriously. I find it distracting. Just a personal thing I guess. But half the junk we sing at Mass is froofy, in my opinion. Give me a little chant, or at least something written before 1900 and I’ll be good to go. :thumbsup: That’s my preference.

Yep, I remember that song. I struggle with the issue of “bread” verses “Body” as well. I think, given the huge numbers of Catholics who no longer believe in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, we should err on the side of caution and not have those types of hymns. That particular song, though, is not nearly as bad as others. At least it is asking you to “look beyond the bread.”

To me, the main issue here is that hymns should be about God and NOT about us.

The song is objectively fine. It is just the wrong emphasis at the wrong time in history.

We live in a culture of instant gratification, no sacrifice, grab what you want, don’t work for it.

The last thing we need to be singing is a repudiation of holy places/spaces and a denigration of the idea that heaven will be a better place than the here/now.

It is true that the Kingdom of Heaven begins here and now. But it is ALSO true that we need holy and quiet places to contemplate the Word and adore Him. It is also true that the eternal Heaven is so much greater than this world, that it is WORTH the sacrifices we must make here to live there after death.

Again, there is nothing objectively wrong with the lyrics. They just aren’t very appropriate to the sins and errors predominant in our age/culture. It would be better to exalt all THREE crucial places/ways of encounter with our Lord.

I hate this song. We sing it about every other week at Mass, and it makes me want to hide under the pew. That and, 'Ride on, Jesus, Ride!".

I can’t find a copy of the lyrics online to critique, but I particularly hate, ‘light years’. It just sounds silly and dated.

It goes in my loose category of 'Hymns I Hate", which includes the sections, Bad Tune, Bad Lyrics, and MeMeMeMeMeandGod.

Maybe it’s a contrast thing. I think of Rock of Ages, Allelluia, Sing to Jesus, Tantum Ergo Sacrametum, St. Patrick’s Breastplate, Crown Him with Many Crowns, and I hear really good music that’s singable, and has words filled with meaning. Most of the fifties’ era stuff doesn’t rhyme, the tune changes all the time, and the theology of the words is just insubstantial.

I don’t hate “Gather Us In” as much as I hate “Here I Am Lord”.

I swear, there is a conspiracy to have that ghastly song at every single Mass I attend, it haunts me - it is everywhere - AGGGGGHHHHHH!!!

I love Here I Am, Lord!

Golly, you don’t suppose it’s an “ex-Protestant” thing, do you?

I really, really LOVE Here I Am, Lord. I can’t see anything to criticize in it.

Well, let me see, I converted 9 years ago, and have spent my life emmersed in the Gospel Music world. So, that theory is right out the door :slight_smile:

It is the Brady Bunch theme song, I have to chew the inside of my mouth to keep from laughing out loud when it is sung…

Here I am Lord
Is it I Lord
And I’m bringing up three very lovely girls.

Bad music, really bad music.

I guess it’s all taste, as that is one of my all time favorites. It often literally will make my eyes leak–both that I am being called and the responsibility I’m taking on.

I’m with you - it is one of my all time favorites, and we had it sung at our wedding during the bring of the gifts. I can always end up with tears in my eyes when I hear it (and no sassy comments about it bringing tears to eyes for other reasons!!!). :cool:


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