Sunday, December 27, 2009

Time to ruin some songs for you

Update: You can sing Amazing Grace and these other poems to any of the following tunes (more or less),

Amazing Grace
Almost every poem by Emily Dickinson
The Burning Babe, by Robert Southwell
The Yellow Rose of Texas
The Gilligan's Island theme song
Peaceful Easy Feeling
I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing
The A Team theme song
House of the Rising Sun
O Susanna

Do you know of any others I can add to the list? Let me know in the comments! Now here's my original post:

Today I went out to breakfast after Mass to an excellent French-Canadian restaurant operated by Vietnamese, and there I learned that every poem by Emily Dickinson can be sung to the tune of The Yellow Rose of Texas.

Try it yourself! Here's the tune:

And here's an Emily Dickinson poem:

I felt a funeral in my brain,
And mourners, to and fro,
Kept treading, treading, till it seemed
That sense was breaking through.

And when they all were seated,
A service like a drum
Kept beating, beating, till I thought
My mind was going numb.

And then I heard them lift a box,
And creak across my soul
With those same boots of lead,
Then space began to toll

As all the heavens were a bell,
And Being but an ear,
And I and silence some strange race,
Wrecked, solitary, here.

And then a plank in reason, broke,
And I dropped down and down--
And hit a world at every plunge,
And finished knowing--then--

For more fun, here's Dickinson's most famous poem:

Because I could not stop for Death,
He kindly stopped for me;
The carriage held but just ourselves
And Immortality.

We slowly drove, he knew no haste,
And I had put away
My labor, and my leisure too,
For his civility.

We passed the school, where children strove
At recess, in the ring;
We passed the fields of gazing grain,
We passed the setting sun.

Or rather, he passed us;
The dews grew quivering and chill,
For only gossamer my gown,
My tippet only tulle.

We paused before a house that seemed
A swelling of the ground;
The roof was scarcely visible,
The cornice but a mound.

Since then 'tis centuries, and yet
Feels shorter than the day
I first surmised the horses' heads
Were toward eternity.

Now then, do ya'll remember the Gilligan's Island theme song?

Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale,
A tale of a fateful trip,
That started from this tropic port,
Aboard this tiny ship.

The mate was a mighty sailing man,
The skipper brave and sure.
Five passengers set sail that day,
For a three hour tour, a three hour tour.

The weather started getting rough,
The tiny ship was tossed,
If not for the courage of the fearless crew,
The Minnow would be lost, the Minnow would be lost.

The ship set ground on the shore of this uncharted desert isle,
With Gilligan, The Skipper too, the millionaire and his wife,
The movie star, the professor and Mary Ann,
Here on Gilligan's Isle.

Turns out you can also sing that to The Yellow Rose of Texas, and vice versa. Which means you can sing Emily Dickinson's poems to the tune of Gilligan's Island! See how seriously you can take her when you're singing "And then a plank in reason broke and I dropped down and down..." as if it was "Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale, a tale of a fateful trip..."

Having fun yet? Now try this!

Amazing grace! How sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost but now am found
Was blind, but now I see.

'Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved;
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed!

Through many dangers, toils, and snares,
We have already come;
'Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.

The Lord has promised good to me,
His word my hope secures;
He will my shield and portion be
As long as life endures.

Yes, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease,
I shall possess, within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.

The earth shall soon dissolve like snow,
The sun forbear to shine;
But God, who called me here below,
Will be forever mine.

When we've been there ten thousand years,
Bright shining as the sun,
We've no less days to sing God's praise,
Than when we first begun.

It's true. Amazing Grace can be sung to the tune of The Yellow Rose of Texas, or worse yet, to the tune of Gilligan's Island. And of course you can sing Gilligan's Island to Amazing Grace, which makes it sound much more serious. It's all interchangeable!

Are there any other tunes that fit? Let me know. :)


JimAroo said...

Bless us oh Lord and these Thy gifts which we are about to receive from thy bounty, through Christ our Lord.

Amen Amen Amen

It works for the Gilligan's Island theme....

Rachel Gray said...

Wow, that works pretty well! But if we pray it that way, we'll have to follow it with an Act of Contrition and then do it right.... :)

Matt said...

At a CCF retreat once (maybe you were there?) we set ourselves the task to find out how many tunes there were to which we could sing "Amazing Grace". In addition to "Gilligan's Island", I can remember singing it to "Peaceful Easy Feeling", "I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing", "The A Team", and Beethoven's Fifth (only works for the first line!).

Randy said...

Amazing grace is sometimes sung to the tune of House of the Rising Sun

Rachel Gray said...

I missed that retreat, Matt-- thanks for the list. "I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing" is my favorite. Randy, I had to look up your song (here) and it might be the craziest yet!

De Liliis said...

Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all,

- E.D.


'As I in hoary winter's night stood shivering in the snow,
Surprised I was with sudden heat which made my heart to glow;
And lifting up a fearful eye to view what fire was near,
A pretty babe all burning bright did in the air appear;
Who, scorched with excessive heat, such floods of tears did shed
As though his floods should quench his flames which with his tears were fed.
Alas, quoth he, but newly born in fiery heats I fry,
Yet none approach to warm their hearts or feel my fire but I!
My faultless breast the furnace is, the fuel wounding thorns,
Love is the fire, and sighs the smoke, the ashes shame and scorns;
The fuel justice layeth on, and mercy blows the coals,
The metal in this furnace wrought are men's defiled souls,
For which, as now on fire I am to work them to their good,
So will I melt into a bath to wash them in my blood.
With this he vanished out of sight and swiftly shrunk away,
And straight I called unto mind that it was Christmas day.'

St. Robert Southwell, 'St. Peter's Complaint', 'The Burning Babe'

Rachel Gray said...

Thanks, De Liliis, both for proving that Dickinson was capable of writing in another meter, and for yet another great hymn that can be effectively ruined with a silly tune!

I really like Southwell's poem.

Pam H. said...

Try it with "O Susanna", too, my daughter says.

If you know who Larry the Cucumber is, imagine him singing Amazing Grace to O Susanna.

Rachel Gray said...

Thanks, I'll add that to the list! I know Larry well, and it's a vivid picture.