I live across the street from a Catholic Church. No, not the parish I belong to. That would be too easy, now wouldn't it?
Anyway, they have a set of electronic bells in the bell tower, and every hour from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., the bells play a hymn. It took some getting used to when we first moved in. They seemed so loud then. Now there are hours and hours that pass without me even really paying them much mind, which is kind of a shame.
But the selection of hymns, while traditional, is not exclusively "Catholic." By that I mean that there are quite a few hymns that I don't think many cradle Catholics would know many of the words to. The only reason I know them is that my grandparents were Methodist and Southern Baptist. So I wondered today at 11 a.m. if most of the people listening to the bells knew these words:
Softly and tenderly Jesus is calling,
Calling for you and for me;
See, on the portals He’s waiting and watching,
Watching for you and for me.
Come home, come home,
You who are weary, come home;
Earnestly, tenderly, Jesus is calling,
Calling, O sinner, come home!
Why should we tarry when Jesus is pleading,
Pleading for you and for me?
Why should we linger and heed not His mercies,
Mercies for you and for me?
Time is now fleeting, the moments are passing,
Passing from you and from me;
Shadows are gathering, deathbeds are coming,
Coming for you and for me.
O for the wonderful love He has promised,
Promised for you and for me!
Though we have sinned, He has mercy and pardon,
Pardon for you and for me.
Words & Music: Will L. Thompson, in Sparkling Gems, Nos. 1 and 2, by J. Calvin Bushey (Chicago, Illinois: Will L. Thompson & Company, 1880)
Cyberhymnal gives us this lovely nugget about the song:
When evangelist Dwight Moody was on his deathbed, he told Thompson:
"Will, I would rather have written “Softly and Tenderly Jesus is Calling” than anything I have been able to do in my whole life."
If you don't know the tune, go here and you can learn it and sing along. It was one of my grandmother's favorites.