A ‘Sneaky Jesus song’ may not be a religious tune, but when you listen to the lyrics it could be mistaken for one.
The song, 'If I can dream', was performed by Elvis as part of his ‘1968 Come Back Special’. After a number of years of releasing ‘pop’ songs and acting in movies to avoid breaking an erroneously signed contract years earlier, Elvis declared that he would never act or sing another song that he did not believe in. Although the single was not one of his hits, it has withstood the test of time. The song offered more depth than anything prior and was a prelude to other songs of strong emotion and social awareness.
The lyrics are in part a tribute to Dr Martin Luther King Jr and his vision of a just society. Today the lyrics are as valid as they were in 1968. In fact, so profound are the lyrics that they apply to all social problems and injustices. The beauty in the song however is the underpinning notion that the individual can bring about change. In our tradition there is always hope, however to achieve change in all the situations needed we have to be the workers in the vineyard (Matthew 9:37). Each person through the inspiration and guidance of the Spirit can change the world. This hope is eternal and open to all people who can see the world the way it should be.
As Elvis exclaims:
And while I can think, while I can talk
While I can stand, while I can walk
While I can dream, please let my dream
Come true, right now.
We pray for all artists who help us find God in the wonder of their art. We pray especially for the soul of Elvis Presley, who we pray has been forgiven of any and all sin has found peace and eternally lives in the presence of God; who has fulfilled the dream. We pray also that we may be inspired to dream big dreams, and achieve these dreams in the name of our saviour. Who revealed to us God’s plan for humanity and enables us to love like Him. When we work to make these ‘dreams’ come true, we pray that through our love, others glimpse the Father.
Artist: Elvis Presley (b.8 January 1935 - d. 16 August 1977)
Song: If I Can Dream (released – 5 November 1968)
Brendan Nicholls is the liturgy coordinator at St Ignatius College, Geelong.