The Joy of Songs and Shoes

Jan 22, 2020

Being somewhat of a musical aficionado I often think in terms of music and songs, but, being older of course, my songs are not of the very up-to-date variety.  This week, musically, two songs seemed relevant; Beethoven’s Ode to Joy and an African American spiritual, ”I got shoes.”  They can be googled and different versions listened to on youtube.  Firstly check this

I got a robe, you got a robe,
All God’s children got a robe.
When I get to Heav’n gonna put omy robe,
Gonna shout all over God’s Heav’n, Heav’n, Heav’n
Everybody talkin’ æbout Heav’n ain’t going there,
Heav’n, Heav’n, Heav’n.   
Gonna shout all over God’s Heav’n.

I got shoes, you got shoes,
All God’s children got shoes.
When I get to Heav’n gonna put on my shoes,
Gonna walk all over God’s Heav’n, Heav’n, Heav’n
Everybody talkin’ æbout Heav’n ain’t going there,
Heav’n, Heav’n, Heav’n.
Gonna shout all over God’s Heav’n.


Gun control has been in the news recently in the context of shootings in the US and here too. The US held a rally for pro and anti-gun rights supporters all of whom are passionate about their own position. Last week in SA the Minister of Police spoke during the current amnesty period for handing in illegal firearms.  Like Gunfree South Africa he praised the move, “It would be wonderful to have a country where individuals are not issued firearms.” However while hundreds of guns were handed in to the police to be destroyed it is also recognised that on examination almost none of those that were handed in were linked to crimes. It is a debate but clearly those guns  used by criminals at least are not handed in. All this brought an adaptation of the “shoe song” into my head. “I want a gun, you want a gun, all of God’s children want a gun. When I get to heaven I’ll be pleased there won’t be any there,  so we’ll walk all over God’s heaven, heaven, heaven, gonna sing all over God’s heaven.”  Sing for joy, that is.

That brings me to the more serious upcoming musical performance of Beethoven’s  well-known 9th (Choral) symphony.  It is well-known and loved internationally.  Its main melody has been used as a hymn tune, some countries’ national anthems and a victory song in some sporting events or to commemorate the end of war.  It will be sung in German here in Johannesburg and the essence of its message is “Alle menschen werden Bruder,  ………” translated as “All people will become brothers,”  ultimately, in God, the Father’s home.


For me, and those who follow MARFAM’s 2020 theme and the present series of reflections on OUR WORLD, A FAMILY OF FAMILIES, music becomes part of that message too.  Like St Francis of whom Pope Francis writes, “ Just as happens when we fall in love with someone, whenever St. Francis  would gaze at the sun, the moon or the smallest of animals, he burst into song, drawing all other creatures into his praise. He communed with all creation, even preaching to the flowers, inviting them “to praise the Lord, just as if they were endowed with reason.” (Laudato Si  11) 

Pope Francis encyclical letter Laudato Si challenges the world on the ecological crisis and invites an ecological conversion.  It comments widely on environmental and climate issues, the reasons and causes being indifference, greed, power and refusal to acknowledge the harm that our lifestyles are doing to creation. Governments, big corporates and the wealthy but also every family and individual are contributing in some way to global warming and the place where we as families can start this ecological conversion process is in our own homes.  Many suggestions are available on the web and from MARFAM too.

MARFAM’s January’s theme for the month was Beginnings.   February’s will be Loves Gives Life and there will be a special focus on marriage too.

But back to our music.   As brothers and sisters, members of creation we are often reminded by Pope Francis of the particular needs of the poor who, as he writes, often suffer most from the effects of climate change.   It is up to all of us to share our resources for the common good.   If we have a robe to spare, (and how many of us don’t?)  or if we have shoes, especially school shoes at this time of the beginning of the school year or can afford to sponsor those in need, we will all be happier singing and dancing all over God’s heaven in due course.

In the mean time do take a moment to listen to this music and even sing along or attend the concert in Johannesburg on 2 February.  It will be a musical feast for the ear.      TR  FAMILY WEEKLY 22 JANUARY 2020

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