Unsuitable Song?

I’m a member of the choir at my parish, and for the Feast of Christ the King, we’ve been told by our music director that we will be singing “See Us Lord, About Your Altar” as a communion hymn. Having never sung (or heard) this song before, I took a look at it. The third verse is what caught my eye the most:

Once were seen the blood and water:
Now is seen but bread and wine;
Once in human form he suffered,
Now his form is but a sign

Am I wrong in reading this as an explicit denial of both the Real Presence (“his form is but a sign”) and Transubstantiation (“Now is seen but bread and wine”)?

If not, how do I proceed? Should I contact my pastor with my concerns?


The form of bread is wine is a symbol. This would be referring to the accidents. It is the substance that is the body and blood of Christ. But, O my goodness, I have never heard lyrics like this. One would really have to be on their toes to catch this nuance. One has to wonder if the writer was trying to be technically correct to imply heresy.

These are the most horrible lyrics I have heard in a while.

I’m afraid that this is semi-heretical. Why would any Catholic want to sing something that affirms Protestant understanding (or lackthereof) of the Real Presence? :eek: :eek:

These are the kinds of things that make me wonder about the current state of “liturgical” music today. I would direct your choir director to the USCCB webpage that I continually cite when making my comments on Sacred Music:

usccb.org/liturgy/MUSIC%20FDLCnew.ppt#256,1,Slide 1

There is one very telling statement in the powerpoint:

Individual songs should be consonant with Catholic teaching and free from theological error.

As well as Pope Benedict’s line from Sacramentum Caritatis:

…one song is not as good as another.

Ask your Music Director about it first. Perhaps you will not be signing the 3rd verse anyway. Only if you don’t get a clear answer there would I go to the pastor. Work up the ladder.

It’s probably best to avoid that song altogether. Why not sing something that’s a little more doctrinally clear like Alleluia, Sing to Jesus or Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence? Both hymns are beautiful and are theologically sound.

I’m with you heretical, banned here in this parish.
call your pastor directly if you are involved in the music for liturgy and explain firmly why you refuse to sing it, or to allow this in your charge to sing it.

I’ve sent email to our Music Director explaining my reservations regarding this song, and suggested two alternatives that we’re familiar with (One Bread, One Body or Taste and See - though I would rather chant Tantum Ergo :smiley: ). So, at this point, I’m waiting on a response.

While it is true that all we see with our physical eyes is the “sign” of “but bread and wine,” the reality is more than what we see.

I would be VERY uncomfortable with these lyrics.

I sang this song in my parish throughout my youth, and, because I had a good grounding in the idea of substance and accidents from my Baltimore Catechism, it never occurred to me that the lyrics were denying the Real Presence. I took it to be an example of seeing only the accidents, as compared to those at Calvary who actually saw Jesus die on the cross.


Why have to deal with questionable songs when there are tons of highly orthodox and suitable hymns for Christ the King such as “To Jesus Christ our Sovereign King” and “Crown Him with Many Crowns”?

Exactly. :thumbsup: For Communion, you can use Alleluia, Sing to Jesus (earth, your footstool, heaven your throne) or Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence (use the older translation as it is more theologically correct), At That First Eucharist, and At the Name of Jesus (Kingsfold melody from Worship III hymnal-older translation).

We also tend to forget that both the Feast of Christ the King and the first Sunday of Advent have that eschatological theme to them. Read the words to The King Shall Come When Morning Dawns (refers to both the first and second comings of Christ).

Are they the original lyrics to the hymn? I believe it is an older hymn melody, but not sure about the text. Or was it an older Protestant hymn now used in Catholic masses? I think the hymn melody is Drakes Brophton. It’s not in my Worship III hymnal for the one church I cantor at, but know it is in the OCP hymnal for my home parish as we’ve had to sing it from there before.

But I agree, there are many other communion choices you can use. The melody of this hymn is lovely, but the text (at least in the 3rd verse) not as much so.

I sang those lyrics 35 to 40 years ago. I don’t know how new they were then.


That’s probably about the time that sacred music went downhill.:frowning:

This is a hymn that I’ve sung too many times to count but I’ve never seen that particular verse in our hymnals.

The hymn was included in the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops’ 1980 Catholic Book of Worship II and perhaps even in the original CBW of 1972 - I seem to recall singing it as a young adult. It was left out of the CBW III.

Would you know how the CBW or CBW II compares to CBW III? I have CBW III but it is littered with inclusive language. I use it only as reference for sheet music but I always lift the lyrics from more traditional sources.

The removal of thees and thous & the inclusive language are the two things that I hate about it. Just this morning singing “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” I found it hard to sing "shall come to YOU (instead of thee) O Israel.

OTOH, they’ve removed a lot of the 60s & early 70s stuff that was in CBW II (Carey Landry et al) – a vast improvement IMO and I came of age in those years. There is a lack of traditional hymns and way too much Haugen but then it dates back to 1994). I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that they’re in the process of working on CBW IV in anticipation of the publication of the new translation of the Roman Missal since the Ordinary of the Mass will need some major modifications.


Anyone who did would likely have the same concerns.

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