Sunday, May 19, 2019

THE JUKEBOX HERO HYMNAL: Hymn 032: Pete Townshend - Parvardigar

A couple of days ago we added Content by Pete Townshend to the Jukebox Hero Hymnal and at that time we mentioned there was one more tune from the same album that needed to go in. Whelp, here it is…

The song is based on a prayer written by Townshend’s spiritual guru, Meher Baba. It was basically an attempt by Baba to formulate a sort of universal prayer of praise that celebrates the attributes of God commonly recognized by most religions. You know, stuff like how God is infinite, immanent, immutable, self-existent, pure love, that sort of thing. To emphasize the universality of the piece, the prayer calls on God by the titles used in many different religions, names such as Allah, Prahbu, Ahura Mazda, Lord of Lords, and more.

Admittedly, this isn’t Townshend’s strongest work musically, but it’s certainly no worse than a lot of the stuff that creeped into Church music back in the 1970s. In fact, it’s lyrically meatier than a good number of today’s Pablum filled hymns. Take this verse, for instance…

You are unlimited and unfathomable
Imperishable beyond conception by our minds
No one can defy you ,oh God you are eternal
None can see you but with eyes divine

…or this one…

You are the Creator, the Lord of Lords
The knower of all minds and hearts
Omnipotent, omnipresent, from you we cower
You are Knowledge, Infinite Bliss, Infinite Power

Now, those are some words you could belt out on a Sunday morning. Obviously, as someone who believes ideas have consequences, there are things in Meher Baba’s teachings I have to disagree with. However, this particular prayer is mostly benign, give or take a line or two. Sort of like George Harrison’s My Sweet Lord, but with the emphasis placed on God as the unfathomable source of all creation that just so happens to know and love each us individually. I can live with that.

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