This morning (Saturday) I celebrated Mass for Frank and Pat's Golden Wedding. Put on the best gold vestments, sang some hymns, said a few words, blessed them with the official blessing for 50 year's of marriage from the old Small Ritual. A good job done, but only what could be expected considering what they did for my Golden Jubilee in 2009.
Two people told me they found the whole Mass was very emotional (partly because the husband is not very well), and the golden couple were overwhelmed - they thought they could just slip into church for Mass and then escape without anyone noticing. Others must have felt the heart strings tugged as well.
And so I began to think as I walked my dog through the beautiful Teesdale countryside this afternoon (Harold Macmillan called Teesdale 'England's hidden gem') about an question which has been intriguing me for years.
Is it the Singer or the Song?
In the 1961 film (with Dirk Bogarde and John Mills), Dirk Bogarde as the bandido after many years of being pursued by the priest (John Mills) to receive conversion and repentance finally in his dying moments repents and says to the priest, "It's not the song; it's the singer." And if I remember rightly they both die together.
Is that how it is? After all, you have to have a Song before the Singer can sing it. And if it is going to last for centuries, it must be a Good Song. But if the Song is to be heard, there must also be a Singer, someone who believes in the Song and who is able to present the Song to those who are listening. But even if the Song is first class, if the Singer is careless or does not really believe in the Song, then the Song will not be easily heard. That's not always true, either, because quite often the grace of God ensures that His Song is heard even when on occasions the Singer is careless or unbelieving. God works in mysterious ways - on quite a few occasions I think to myself as I leave the pulpit 'That was a rubbish sermon' only to have someone come up to me after Mass and tell me that that was exactly what he needed to hear!
So there! Is it the Singer or is it the Song? In truth I suppose only God knows how He uses the Song which the Singer sings.