SONG: Return to God by John Angotti and Alan Hommerding
Return to God by John Angotti and Alan Hommerding is one of those ‘go to’ songs for me during the season of Lent. This song has it all…it’s easy to sing, simple to play, and has beautiful, rich lyrics. It’s a wonderful song for liturgy and it can be used at various times throughout the Mass. (Gathering, Preparation/Offertory, Communion). From the first lyric: “From ashes to the living font your church must journey, Lord…” it really sets the tone for Lent. It’s a great example of a hymn-like approach to contemporary worship music. The verses are stacked, just like a traditional hymn, but then John adds a powerful refrain to tie it all together even more.
Here’s what it sounded like this past Sunday at our 8:30am Mass at Saint Ann’s: (We chose not to play the written/recorded intro, but instead play the verse instrumentally as an introduction.)
listen (LIVE excerpt)
I recently asked John to share how the song came about…
JA: When Alan Hommerding sent out the text of the verses they seemed to just flow with the melody that I gave them. The melody and text made for a nice hymn but for me as a writer, I like to give the people a refrain to come back to. Being that this song is intended for the Lent season I wanted something simple that speaks of what it takes to make Lent meaningful. After much prayer it occurred to me that in order to really make Lent an encounter with God, I had to ask ‘what does God want us to do during Lent?’ I think that’s something God asks us not only at Lent but all year long: Return to me with all your heart. The only way to do that is to surrender the barriers that we have set up. Barriers like: our self-righteousness, our pride, our hate, our envy toward others, our inability to forgive others, etc. We need to surrender it all in order to truly be free. But the only way to surrender is to know that we are being held captive by those barriers that keep us from God. And when we are awakened to our sin, we become humbled, and humility is the first and foremost charism of how to enter into worship. Jesus is the prime example of humility as he took the cross and trusted that God was present. Not so much that God would save him from the cross, but that God would take the cross that was a sign of death and turn it into a sign of resurrection and triumph over sin and death. There is no other way for us to live a fruitful life than to return to God with all our hearts, surrender and be free, with humble hearts we cry to you, have mercy on Lord, forgive our sins, we pray.