“Love, Reign O’er Me” Recontextualized

Posted: March 10, 2013 in Christ, Devotionals, Fred Anson, Jesus Christ, Music, Passion for God, Poetry, Recontextualizing, Theology, Vision

by Fred Anson
In a prior post, I introduced the idea of recontextualizing works of music pointing out not only how Martin Luther, Charles Wesley, and Fanny Crosby recontextualized the music of their day – some of it secular with no discernible religious roots – and turned them into songs of praise and worship, but how modern Christians have been doing the same thing with secular rock music.

I pressed this point further stating, “I confess a certain frustration when fellow Christians take diminish or take umbrage at the idea that unbelievers, with whom we share common life experiences not the least being “the human condition”, can find small echoes of divine truths within His fallen creation.”

Personally, I can think of no experience more common to the human condition than the deeply seeded need that all humans have to know unconditional love and acceptance.  Be it the silver spooned debutante or the beggar rummaging for his next meal in the trash we have all feel this need at some time, some place – perhaps you’re even feeling it now. I would go so far as to say that this may be the deepest most persistent need that human beings feel – and my observation is that it’s certainly the most common.

Now I suppose it will shock no one when I assert that most rock artists incorrectly diagnose the “fix” for this “hole in the soul” as romantic love.  However, as anyone who’s had their heart broken by a lover or spouse who left them will tell you, “That ain’t it!”

Nor can we find the fix in the love of parents for parents get old and die (as I type through my tears since both of mine have “passed”).  And I know from the 12-Step groups I’ve been in that a heartbreaking fact is that one of the things affected by the fall was the relationship between parent and child – as a result, some adult children are looking for healthy love from a broken parent that, sadly, may never come.

The fact of the matter is that human love simply won’t fill that hole in the human condition that it seems God has reserved for Himself.   As French mathematician, physicist, inventor, writer and Christian philosopher Blaise Pascal said well:

 “There is a God-shaped vacuum in the heart of every person, and it can never be filled by any created thing. It can only be filled by God, made known through Jesus Christ.”
– from “Pensees”

And though it was written from quite a different context[1] no song comes closer to expressing this crying need than this one . . .

Lover Reign O’er Me from the 1979 movie “Quadrophenia” 

Love Reign O’er Me
(Pete’s theme)
Only love
Can make it rain
The way the beach is kissed by the sea.
Only love
Can make it rain
Like the sweat of lovers’
Laying in the fields.

Love, reign o’er me.
Love, reign o’er me, rain on me.

Only love
Can bring the rain
That makes you yearn to the sky.
Only love
Can bring the rain
That falls like tears from on high.

Love Reign O’er me.

On the dry and dusty road
The nights we spend apart alone
I need to get back home to cool cool rain.
The nights are hot and black as ink
I can’t sleep and I lay and I think
Oh God, I need a drink of cool cool rain.


… and I’m continuing to hope and pray that the composer of this classic, perhaps even inspired, song may someday know the peace, serenity, and love of God that I, Blaise Pascal, and others have found for himself some day soon.

Ethan-Russell_04(“Love O’er Me” by Pete Townshend was originally released on the 1973 album “Quadrophenia” by The Who) 

[1]  As Pete Townshend, the song’s composer once explained:
(strong language alert for those of you with sensitive ears and eyes) 
“‘Love Reign O’er Me’ is similar to ‘Drowned’ [editor: another song on the Quadrophenia album] in meaning. This refers to Meher Baba’s one time comment that rain was a blessing from God; that thunder was God’s Voice. It’s another plea to drown, only this time in the rain. Jimmy goes through a suicide crisis. He surrenders to the inevitable, and you know, you know, when it’s over and he goes back to town he’ll be going through the same shit, being in the same terrible family situation and so on, but he’s moved up a level. He’s weak still, but there’s a strength in that weakness. He’s in danger of maturing.” 
(from http://www.thewho.net/linernotes/Quad.htm )

Click here or a more thorough analysis of Pete Townshend and his religious affiliation with Meher Baba.

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