Sunday, November 26, 2006

Kumbaya, My Lord, Kumbaya

I wept this morning. Wept like I haven't in, well, hours (my resident bachelor and I are breaking up so I've been emotionally overwrought for a couple of days). Kumbaya, according to the Gazette, has evolved from a symbol of peace to an international joke, an idiom for idiocy. Kumbaya has become the symbol of insincere bonhomie. Oh, dear Lord.

I am, at heart, a Catholic girl. Yes, I've had my way with a few altar boys, smoked a couple of Lemon Twist cigarettes, but mostly I love Jesus and I want to make him happy. So Kumbaya I sing. Often. Loudly and with gusto.

What has happened to our cherished Catholic anthem? According to wise people, Kumbaya is a pidgin English version of "Come by here." The word represents a plea to our mighty God and runs throughout the song. "Someone's prayin' Lord, Come by here."

How did such a beautiful prayer become a joke? The Gazette puts forth a few theories. It is a one-word title that rolls easily off the tongue. It sounds foreign, thus funny. It's African-American, so racists deride it, can't wait to suck the soul from it. Mainly, it's a song that summer campers and folk mass celebrants have been forced to sing for years, and they're tired of it.

Well, I used to love those Catholic folk masses. Almost as much as the Mariachi masses. I loved singing Kumbaya and all the other classics that were sung to maniacal guitar playing.

So, when I'm in bed tonight, lonely, tear-stained and sick at heart, I'll be singing to myself "Someone's cryin' Lord, come by here."

I hope he listens. I hope he puts his arms around me and comforts me. Even if the song has become a joke.

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