I still had a few calls to make and messages to respond to Christmas wishes, but I decided to take time instead to shed light on Mariology because of the midnight service I celebrated.
The parish priest requested me to arrive earlier because the choir would be singing carols. At 11.30 pm while a few people were walking in, the choir began singing and one of the carols they sang originated from the Baptist community, a song titled ‘Mary Did You Know.’
The Catholic community in India, especially in Goa, is very accommodating when it comes to Christian songs and regularly use these in their worship. Believers of Christ all over the world believe in the guidance of the Holy Spirit and we now have many great compositions by followers, irrespective of their denomination.
As a Catholic priest, music composer, singer and songwriter, I find no issue singing other Christian gospel music, so long as they don’t conflict with the teachings of the Catholic Church. However, this modern Christmas classic, ‘Mary Did You Know’, which has been recorded by hundreds of artistes across multiple genres over the years, with several recordings making the top ten on the Billboards, R&B and Holiday charts, has left me disconcerted.
With due respect to the composer, ‘Mary Did You Know’ is an Anti-Marian song. My only intention is to critically appreciate it because as a songwriter, I know every word matters and the lyrics in the song make it fallacious as far as Catholic doctrine is concerned.
While it is an inspiring and great musical composition, I feel this song should not be sung in Catholic churches.
CATHOLIC FALLACIES IN LYRICS
There are several Catholic fallacies in the lyrics. Consider the line: “The child that you delivered would soon deliver you”. This punctures our Catholic truths about Mary. This phrase is similar to a double entendre used in the popular song, ‘The last dance will last forever’. Double entendre can sound very captivating but it should not take away the truth.
Who needs deliverance? Someone who sins. In the first chapter of the Gospel of Luke, when the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary he addressed her as “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you’ (Luke 1:28). He did not say ‘Hail Mary, you are filled with grace’. Why did he address her this way and what does it mean to be ‘full of grace’? It means to be without the stain of sin.
We Catholics believe that God created Mary to be a divine palace fit for His Son, pure, holy, blameless and undefiled. The fullness of grace was Mary’s very nature. This is one of the declared Marian dogmas of the Catholic Church, Mary’s Immaculate Conception, a feast day celebrated on December 8.
Recognising this dogma, if we still sing the lyrics “The child you deliver will soon deliver you" from the song ‘Mary Did You Know’, then as Catholics we profess that we disagree with most important dogma of the Immaculate Conception and we also consciously and outrightly reject her glorious Assumption (dogma that declares Mary was assumed body and soul into heaven).
While our topic is the modern classic song ‘Mary did you know’, the songwriter devalues Mary when he writes as follows:
1. “Mary, did you know that your baby boy is Lord of all creation?"
The Bible states the angel had told her that he is the son of the most high.
2. "Mary, did you know that your baby boy would one day rule the nations?"
The Bible states that Simeon during the presentation had told them.
3. "Did you know that your baby boy is heaven's perfect Lamb?"
The Bible states that as a true daughter of Israel, Mary knew the scriptures and all the prophecies foretold.
4. "That sleeping child you're holding is the great, I Am”
The Bible states that Mary knew all this before she conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit. She knew it all from Angel Gabriel who visited Mary and declared, “Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there will be no end." (Luke 1:31-33)
5. “The blind will see, the deaf will hear. The dead will live again. The lame will leap, the dumb will speak.”
The Bible states Mary knew it all that nothing is impossible to God. And that is why when the wine was over at the wedding at Cana she goes to Jesus and says, “Son they have no wine.” She knew He was God and that is why when He had not done any miracles and no one knew of Him, She knew.
6. “The praises of the Lamb.”
Teaching in Catholicism acknowledges that all this had already been foretold by the prophet Isaiah, and Mary like every other Jew would’ve known the miracles the Messiah would perform. (Confer Isaiah 35:5-6)
To conclude I wish to quote St Bernard "A mediator, then, was needed with the mediator Himself, nor could a more fitting one be found than Mary."
(The writer is a Pilar Priest and pursuing studies in advanced music.)