I hadn’t heart it since I was a teenager, but there is was, in the background at a McDonald’s. “If I could save time in a bottle, the first thing that I’d like to do is to save every day till eternity passes away just to spend them with you.”
To be frank, when I was a teenager I thought of this as an annoying song. The melody with some of the words got stuck in my head and wouldn’t go away, like a soda pop jingle, like a worm eating into my brain. But this time, with the difference of some 40 years, it seemed different. “I’ve looked around enough to know that you’re the one I want to go through time with.”
I have a friend in a rock band who has actually made money from his music. He caught the difference too. This now-old love song was about a desire for something eternal. The desires expressed in today’s lyrics seem much more immediate. The eternal desire is missing.
It’s not that today’s songs are about sex but the older ones weren’t. It’s that sex in popular songs then was seen as part of a desire for lasting union.
It’s not hard to take a real love song and make it be about our desire for the Lord, with whom we would spend “every day till eternity passes away.” Consider, too, the Song of Songs, where human desire is an allegory for the love between God and his people. Sages from as far back as Plato have known that all desire is, ultimately, for the Lord. Augustine says this is true because God made us this way, giving us restless hearts. At the end of the first paragraph of his Confessions he writes: “Our hearts are restless until they rest in thee.”
And that’s an eternal union that never passes away.
Out & About. This Sunday at 9:30 a.m. I am teaching a class on the Song of Songs at St. Matthew’s Cathedral, 5100 Ross Ave., Dallas. I will be preaching there on the following Sunday, January 28.