Praise music from the past: “I’ll Fly Away”

Latest in an occasional series of God-centric music, some great for Catholic Mass, others better off at a rave.

I absolutely love “I’ll Fly Away.” I cannot deny it.

I first heard it as part of the soundtrack of “O Brother, Where Art Thou?,” the old Coen Brothers masterpiece that stars George Clooney and John Turturro. And this hymn has been covered zillions of times, including by Kanye West on his first album:

I love it to death, but I don’t think I’ll ever do it at Mass. The lyrics are just a little too oblique and a bit too presumptuous of the gaining of heaven, a Protestant thing that we try to avoid in Catholic liturgy. And that makes sense, as the original hymn was written by Albert Brumley, who wrote primarily for Protestants.

Albert Brumley. (Photo credit: the I’ll Fly Away Foundation.)

The song gained prominence in the early ’30s and has remained popular since. Brumley’s life was pretty interesting, so I suggest you head over to his family’s webpage for more.

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