Waiting Here For Hugh image

Waiting Here For Hugh

I encountered a puzzling song recently. Melodic, dynamic, even beautiful - from a musical point of view, a bit of a modern classic - but from a lyrical point of view, decidedly puzzling. Like many contemporary worship songs, particularly those performed by breathy American men, it was addressed not to God, nor to any member of the Trinity, but to a certain Hugh (also the subject of "Hugh and I were made to worship", "We have all we need in Hugh", and so on). More baffling was the fact that, even after deciphering this, I couldn't quite figure out what it was about. Despite its enormous popularity, it seemed to be to be somewhat mystifyingly worded; not as mystifying as "so I'll walk upon salvation, my soul now to stand", but mystifying nonetheless.

For the uninitiated, the song begins with a rather cryptic opening line -

If faith can move the mountains, let the mountains move
We come with expectation, waiting here for Hugh
Waiting here for Hugh

- which makes it sound like we are waiting for Hugh to come and do something miraculous for us. This may well be what it means, since the ancient language of “waiting for” a deity is often about waiting for the deity to come through and rescue his people, usually in the context of suffering and difficulty, and Hugh is clearly a deity in this case (although admittedly, exactly what the mountain-moving metaphor refers to in Hugh’s case is unclear). The chorus then clarifies that we are waiting in a worship context -

Waiting here for Hugh
With our hands lifted high in praise
And it’s Hugh we adore
Singing Hallel, Hugh, Ya!

- which, again, might be about waiting for miraculous deliverance, and praising Hugh in the meantime. But the next verse changes tack completely:

You’re everything you promise, your faithfulness is true
And we’re desperate for your presence. All we need is Hugh
Waiting here for Hugh

This, rather than making it sound like we are waiting for Hugh to work a miracle for us, implies that we are waiting for Hugh to actually show up in the building (which I presume is intended by the language of being “desperate for your presence”). Which prompts the question: is Hugh here (such that we are waiting for him to do something?), or is he not (such that we are waiting for him to appear?) And if we are using “presence” language to refer, not to Hugh’s actual presence, but to our awareness or experience of his presence - as I imagine might be the case - then it seems strange to me, even counterproductive, to sing lyrics that make it sound so much like Hugh is not actually there. So I confess to being a little confused. And I wonder if the thousands who sing it know (a) whether Hugh is in fact there, or (b) what exactly they are expecting to happen next?

Perhaps they are. In which case, could they tell me? And also, could they tell me how to punctuate the middle eight of “Mighty to Save” (“for the glory of the risen King Jesus. Shine your light ...” or “for the glory of the risen King. Jesus, shine your light ...”)? And whether we should use a definite or indefinite article in “The Splendour of a/the King”? And whether the world is reclaimed for God’s glory by our spreading the word or by his return? And what “ineffably sublime” means? And ...

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