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Bob and Jan's Collaring Song

Years ago, when my "then" husband and I were still living in Colorado, we hosted a group of kinksters from around the country in our home, and together, the bunch of us spent the weekend at Thunder in the Mountains.  Tom and T were with us that weekend, along with a couple that lived in Toledo, Ohio, and another set of online friends from Eugene, Oregon.  We had people all over the house, and mealtimes were quite the production, gathered around our big table.  We rented a mini-van, and so we managed to shuttle back and forth across town to participate in the play parties and presentations.  It was a wild and busy time.

Part of the festivities of the weekend included a collaring ceremony between Bob and Jan, our friends from the west coast.  We all gathered one evening, before we headed for the play party, to witness to their promises to one another, and to support them as they embarked on a new phase of their journey in their life together.  It was a simple ceremony that included, at one point, a paraphrase of a hymn that they had heard at their church.  At the time, I'd never heard the hymn by John Ball called "The Summons:"

Will you come and follow me if I but call your name?
Will you go where you don't know and never be the same?
Will you let my love be shown? Will you let my name be known,
will you let my life be grown in you and you in me?

Will you leave yourself behind if I but call your name?
Will you care for cruel and kind and never be the same?
Will you risk the hostile stare should your life attract or scare?
Will you let me answer prayer in you and you in me?

Will you let the blinded see if I but call your name?
Will you set the prisoners free and never be the same?
Will you kiss the leper clean and do such as this unseen,
and admit to what I mean in you and you in me?

Will you love the "you" you hide if I but call your name?
Will you quell the fear inside and never be the same?
Will you use the faith you've found to reshape the world around,
through my sight and touch and sound in you and you in me?

Lord your summons echoes true when you but call my name.
Let me turn and follow you and never be the same.
In Your company I'll go where Your love and footsteps show.
Thus I'll move and live and grow in you and you in me.

Now, there is plenty of discussion, within the "church music" types about the relative merits of this song.  Some find it insipid, sing-songy, badly written, and derivative.  Church music people seem to take this stuff awfully seriously.  I don't really care that much, to tell the truth.  I "attend" mass once each week with my Catholic school students, and the music is part of the experience that I can sometimes enjoy, given that I am the resident heathen...

But every few weeks, with amazing regularity, I'll head over to church with my kids, and there, posted on the board, part of the music programme for the service, is "Bob and Jan's Collaring Song."  It always makes me smile...  if they only knew!!!



  1. We sing that too, once a year or so. Our church is fiercely traditional, but from time to time a "modern" style song is introduced to appeal to the more progressive attendees. I'll never sing it again without thinking of the alternate words. It might even make the hymn bearable :)


  2. Ordalie2:29 AM

    "I "attend" mass once each week with my Catholic school students." Why? Is it part of your job? Are they boarders?

    1. Ordalie -- I teach in a Catholic school. Students attend mass on Thursday morning, and I am expected to take my homeroom class to that liturgy each week.

    2. Ordalie2:18 AM

      I would expect them to go to mass on Sundays with their families.

  3. So where are the alternate words?

    1. I don't have them, Malcolm. The changes were written by Bob and Jan, and as far as I know, they had the only copy. I'm sorry, but you will just have to imagine how the words might have been altered to suit the occasion.



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