Tuesday, December 09, 2014

THE JUKEBOX HERO HYMNAL: Hymn 013: World Falls by The Indigo Girls

For this week’s entry into the Jukebox Hero Hymnal, we have another request, this time from Cari Donaldson, author of "Pope Awesome and Other Stories (go buy it, it’s a lot of fun)." Her suggestion is “World Falls” by the Indigo Girls, a song she finds “to be an amazingly sacramental view of the world and humanity's role as the crown of creation.”

Now for those who may not know much about the Indigo Girls beyond their few radio hits and their vocal activism for homosexual causes, it may come as a bit of a surprise to learn that the duo both have religious backgrounds. Emily Saliers is the daughter of a Methodist minister, while Amy Ray is a former religion major who once considered entering the seminary. That goes a long way towards explaining why religious themes often pop up in the pair’s music, particularly in those songs written by Amy Ray, who admits to still enjoying attending church services.

In an interview with On Being, Ray spoke of her religious tunes. “I'll write gospel songs, you know, that are more like Appalachian mountain gospel songs,” she explains, “and that's a sacred song to me and spiritual in a different way than maybe an unrequited love song might be or a story song about my family or something. It's coming through me and I don't try to edit it too much… I mean, not to say that all the music's not spiritual, but there is definitely for me a place that I go into if I write a little gospel song.”

Such an emotional response, pretty common in Appalachian mountain gospel, is an appropriate vehicle for singing about a sacramental view of the world. As a sacrament is a tangible sign of the invisible grace of God, to view the world sacramentally is to see it as such. So it’s easy to see how Mrs. Donaldson discovered such a sentiment in “World Falls” when you hear lyrics like, “This world falls on me with hopes of immortality, everywhere I turn all the beauty just keeps shaking me.” It echoes the poets of old when they gazed upon the Earth and saw the hand of its creator in His work.

“The earth is the Lord's and the fulness thereof: the world, and all they that dwell therein.” (Psalms 24:1, DRB)