Oh, it’s time for something joyful! So, another edition of Songs for the Modern Hymnal.
The Modern Hymnal
The Modern Hymnal is my own creation. It’s full of songs you’ll never hear in a traditional church.
They are songs that I feel express some deep experience of being human. They are songs that should be in a church.
I hear them in the depths of my heart and soul; the most sacred place there is.
They are songs that speak to my soul, as a modern mystic.
This time around, I’ve got two songs about Sacred Sex.
Take Me to Church by Hozier
First up is this gorgeous song by Hozier, aptly titled ‘Take Me to Church.’ It is a bluesy, gospel, and ascendant song about the tension between the church and sexuality, in particular sexual orientation.
Hozier talks about the meaning of the song: (from The Cut)
“Take Me to Church” is essentially about sex, but it’s a tongue-in-cheek attack at organizations that would … well, it’s about sex and it’s about humanity, and obviously sex and humanity are incredibly tied. Sexuality, and sexual orientation — regardless of orientation — is just natural. An act of sex is one of the most human things. But an organization like the church, say, through its doctrine, would undermine humanity by successfully teaching shame about sexual orientation — that it is sinful, or that it offends God. The song is about asserting yourself and reclaiming your humanity through an act of love. Turning your back on the theoretical thing, something that’s not tangible, and choosing to worship or love something that is tangible and real — something that can be experienced.
But it’s not an attack on faith. Coming from Ireland, obviously, there’s a bit of a cultural hangover from the influence of the church. You’ve got a lot of people walking around with a heavy weight in their hearts and a disappointment, and that shit carries from generation to generation. So the song is just about that — it’s an assertion of self, reclaiming humanity back for something that is the most natural and worthwhile. Electing, in this case a female, to choose a love who is worth loving.
If I didn’t love this song for its own beauty in music and lyrics, I’d just love it for the intellect behind it. (Brains = sexy, ya’ll.)
The song is beautiful to listen to and the video is powerful and painful. It shows two men in a gay relationship and how they are persecuted when their community finds out about their relationship. (It is a blatant commentary on recent homophobic shifts in Russia.)
And while the song grapples with ideals and practicalities and the tension between Sex and Church, it beautifully acknowledges the communion of Sex and Spirit. I have found it inspiring both while sitting on a long plane ride and laying on my bed, awaiting my lover’s return.
There are too many beautiful lines to quote, but my favorite is this:
There is no sweeter innocence than our gentle sin.
Oh, so gorgeous.
Nirvana by Sam Smith
This song absolutely wrecks me every time I listen to it. And it’s been rotating on my playlist a lot lately.
This song holds the momentum of every encounter you’ve ever had when you know, you know, that the erotic energy is going to pull you forward, no matter what.
It also contains the darkness and the weight of those moments when I have been so close to the Other- so close I can feel every inch of my own body, its glorious weight and rhythm. And I can also feel every inch of them, too. What space there is between us – precious little – is charged and magnetic.
I just want to go grab someone and dance in the dark, just writing about it.
It’s another song of ‘forbidden’ love. (Is there ever such a thing?)
We both know the truth/
If this were the real me and you/
It wouldn’t be the right thing to do/
The heart wants what it wants.
And Sam Smith sings it so beautifully.
This is one you hear and feel.
Two songs for the modern hymnal. Enjoy…until next time.