Saturday, May 27, 2017

Lord, Take Control – Anonymous

If just a few words were feasible in the language banks of a God-believer, which ones would be the most important to include there? Maybe that’s not too remote a question to imagine the writer of the song words for “Lord, Take Control” asking, since the text of this pithy tune sounds like the response someone might utter after listening to Moses’ instruction between three and four millennia ago after his encounter with the Holy One at Mount Horeb (see him holding the Ten Commandments here). You and I were not there, but the instruction is no less crucial for those of us in the 21st Century A.D. The Messiah underscored their importance some 1,500 years after the great lawgiver first spoke them. The author of the words is not really anonymous – after all, Moses was only passing on what his Lord told him to say.

The Jews call them part of the Shema. So, was the one who composed “Lord, Take Control” of Jewish derivation, or just an admirer of its implications? Asking the Lord to take control, by means of commanding my heart, mind, body, and soul, is nearly a word-for-word recitation of what Moses said all Israel was to do (Deuteronomy 6:5) in order to obey God’s law. (I’m seeing the word ‘body’ as a close parallel to ‘strength’, the actual word used in that ancient prayer.) It’s also what Jesus reiterated for those standing nearby to listen as He carried out his mission (Matthew 22:37; Mark 12:30); and it’s what He agreed was paramount, when someone He quizzed responded with these words (Luke 10:27). Aren’t we glad that Moses and Jesus summed up the law with a one-sentence command? Because Jesus agreed this Jewish affair was in fact what He too was emphasizing, you and I can employ His words to follow God, without regard to the excruciating details of other Hebrew laws. We can imagine the modern-day composer of this musical Shema making note of Moses’ and Jesus’ words, and adding his or her own summation of what obedience to these words imply – give God control. Another fellow – Paul – would sum up his version of what it meant to obey completely the Shema; for him, it was to make oneself a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1). To Moses, Jesus, and Paul, loving the Lord with all one’s heart, mind, strength/body, and soul = living sacrifice = the Lord’s in control.              

Could it be that a nameless composer determined “Lord, Take Control” was the most effective way to transmit a message he or she was trying to get into the heads of listeners, via a musical vehicle? It’s an inner quest, when someone seeks to follow Him completely. But, like a healthy, well-balanced, but light meal, one need not consume much to draw energy from sustenance. This compact, yet meaty musical feast has all the necessary ingredients. A desire for true devotion – like what one says in the Shema -- is perhaps best accented with music. God used this method with David, after all. Why would He stop using it? Can you hear Him in our music today?

Only bible references and this blogger’s own opinion are used to present the story of the above song.

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