Oh Mother Help Me

For some reason this morning I woke up thinking of the hymn “Sweet Hour of Prayer” — in particular the wonderful bluegrass version done by the Osbourne Brothers. And I thought to myself, “Self, why is it that there are so few good pagan hymns?” At least in the neo-pagan tradition, that is. There are a myriad of songs to the Great Mother in Bengali, but so few outside of India get a chance to experience the longest unbroken tradition of Mother Goddess worship in the world.

So much of pagan music seems to be directed at a specific audience, and to deny the universal appeal of paganism outside its adherents. Perhaps that’s because of the strict policy most pagan traditions have of non-proselytizing. Perhaps it’s because so many neo-pagans are “recovering” Christians who would deny the positive effect that hymns and such have — it is a power to step beyond the practice and immerse oneself in what the spirit of a religion is supposed to be.

Ah, well. Also, a lot of pagan music tries to place itself into a separate genre, a world unto itself — as opposed to writing pagan rock songs, pagan country songs, pagan bluegrass. The problem with that approach is, of course, that music forms are the natural development of an indigenous culture. To deny these forms as vehicles for expression is to, in my opinion, go against one of the very things that defines pagans to begin with.

So here it is. A pagan bluegrass song. A pagan hymn, if you will. Imagine Ralph and Carter Stanley singing it, instead of “Man of Constant Sorrow”. Someday, when I get my home studio back in working order, I’ll put it to disc and hope to do it justice.

There is a shadow that lingers on
after the cover of night is gone
it seeks to darken enlightened souls
and separate each part from the whole

Seeking a power beyond their ken
the world is destroyed by shadowed men
and despite knowing their way is flawed
they seek to prove theirs the only god

Oh Mother help me
to understand
see past illusion wrought by your hand
Oh Mother help me
to see your face
and walk beside you all of my days

We walk in darkness, and do not know
it is but shadow that makes it so
Blinded to reason and lost to care,
we fumble searching for what’s not there

Some think they’ve found it, the one true path
for all to follow or be downcast;
Their eyes set on some far distant goal,
they seek all others to control

Oh Mother help me
to find my way
see past illusions that cloud the day
Oh Mother help me
to see your form
and find a shelter from this great storm

There is a shadow across our hearts
It hides the one place where all truth starts
and separates us, who should be one,
into these fragments left each undone

Each clinging to one small grain of sand,
in darkness, claiming our light is grand;
Lost in illusion, and dark design,
We trade the sacred for “me and mine”.

Oh Mother help me
to see the light
find truth worth sharing past wrong and right
Oh Mother help me
your name to sing
and see the wonder of everything.

16 JAN 2005

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