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!