Saturday, April 7, 2007

Lyrics for Holy Saturday

I've spent so much time in church this week (22 hours so far, with about another 4 to go) that I haven't had a chance to listen to most of my usual Holy Week music, like "Jesus Christ Superstar" and Handel's "Messiah." Right now I finally found an hour to listen to Kate Campbell's album of hymns and gospel tunes, "Wandering Strange," while I catch up on my e-mail. But it doesn't look like I'll get to U2's "Achtung Baby."

Yes, you read that right. While Bono's lyrics often draw on Christian terms and symbols, this album contains a song that is both subtle and explicit, "Until the End of the World." I had probably heard this song a dozen times, half-listening, and classified it as just another rock song about love, either unrequited or gone-bad. Then one time I popped the tape into my tape deck as I was leaving work for a Melkite Epitaphios service on Good Friday. With my mind focused on the events the Church was celebrating this day, I finally heard the real meaning of the song: During the Harrowing of Hell, Jesus encounters Judas, who sings this song.

Haven't seen you in quite a while
I was down the hold, just passing time
Last time we met it was a low-lit room
We were as close together as bride and groom
We ate the food, we drank the wine
Everybody having a good time
Except you
You were talking about the end of the world

I took the money, I spiked your drink
You miss too much these days if you stop to think
You led me on with those innocent eyes
And you know I love the element of surprise
In the garden I was playing the tart
I kissed your lips and broke your heart
You, you were acting like it was the end of the world

In my dream I was drowning my sorrows
But my sorrows they learned to swim
Surrounding me, going down on me
Spilling over the brim
Waves of regret, waves of joy
I reached out for the one I tried to destroy
You, you said you'd wait till the end of the world

4 comments:

Shawn and Sara said...

Thank you! I really appreciate your sharing this post! Happy Easter to you! Christ is Risen! -Sara

Trevor said...

Assume you mean the original recording of JC Superstar. Curious what you think of the updated stage version that's touring now (or at least was a couple of years ago when my wife got tickets for my birthday). I actually never saw/listened to it until that version, which I happened to catch on PBS a few years back. Growing up in a fairly conservative Evangelical church, the only thing I ever knew about it was that it was sacrilegious and best avoided. I really liked the updated production, which I now own on DVD, but I also have and listen to the original recording. It probably has a lot to do with the order in which I experienced them, but I still feel like the voices fit the characters better in the new DVD.

Roland said...

Indeed he is risen!

I actually have two recordings of "Jesus Christ Superstar." One is the 20th Anniversary London Cast Recording, and the other (which I'm sure your Evangelical friends would find doubly blasphemous) features the Indigo Girls as Jesus and Mary Magdalene. A few years ago I saw it on stage at the Warner Theatre in DC, and I enjoyed it. They really played up the buyers-and-sellers-in-the-temple thing, hawking souvenirs, as an outgrowth of the messiah-as-celebrity theme. And Dennis DeYoung, formerly of Styx, played the part of Herod in the show-stopper!

I think the theme of "JC Superstar" is probably more relevant today than it was 30 years ago. Our relentless media culture tries to reduce every important person to a mere "celebrity" and to transmute religion into just another opportunity to sell something. Maybe that's why so many holy men, from the Desert Fathers and early Celtic monks to St. Seraphim of Sarov, have always fled from civilization into the wilderness.

Elana said...

Thanks for writing this.