The Defiant Hope of Rock Anthems...Pete Greig - 9 Dec 2015
"My senses newly opened
I awakened to the cry
that the people have the power
To redeem the work of fools..."
This week in Paris, as you probably know, U2 sang this Patti Smith anthem with The Eagles of Death Metal, just 24 days after the massacre of 89 fans at the band's Bataclan concert. It was obviously a poignant moment and their choice of song was deliberate.
'People have the Power' is a 1988 punk-rock reworking of various eschatological longings for peace and justice expressed by the prophet Isaiah - see chapters 11 and 43, for example.
And so I find myself thinking: isn't it just like the resurrected Jesus; isn't it just like the God who spoke to dirty, lowlife shepherds and Eastern astrologers at Christmas; to take a band whose name salutes (no doubt ironically) Death Metal, and another band named after an American war plane, and a punk rock rebel like Patti Smith, and to use them to sing redemption songs at Advent; a defiant anthem of hope and life and peace, in the face of death and such manifest evil?
"And the armies ceased advancing
Because the people had their ear,
And the shepherds and the soldiers
Lay beneath the stars
And laying arms to waste in the dust...
Where there were deserts I saw fountains,
And the leopard and the lamb
People have the power - PAtti Smith
Amen. Let it be so.