Saturday, October 18, 2008

The Legend of the Hokey Pokey

The Legend of the Hokey Pokey

I received a pin a while ago that read, “What if the Hokey Pokey is what it is all about?” After some research I have come to find out…the Hokey Pokey really is what it is all about. To the best of my knowledge, here is why… Some of you may have seen “Monty Python’s Life of Brian”. In it is a scene where Jesus is giving the Sermon on the Mount, and there are some folks at the back of the throng who mishear Jesus’ statement “Blessed are the Peacemakers.” They render it, “Blessed are the cheese makers”. The Hokey Pokey is one similar mishearing from the beginning of the Latin Mass. The Latin Mass for The Lord’s Supper begins with the words “Hoc Est Corpus Meum” – (English) “Here is my Body”. 
The Priests were facing the altar rather than the congregation when speaking the words of institution and so it was very possible for the person in the middle of the sanctuary and the middle of the row to mishear such a thing as Hocus Pocus (where we get the magic term). Add in the mystery of Transsubstantiation whereby the elements become the literal body and blood of Jesus Christ and having a little fun with this rendition you can see how such a song and its various motions came to be. 

You put your right leg in… ritual begins by approaching the altar correctly with the right leg leading 
You put your left leg in… the left leg then follows 
You put your right hand in… the right hand goes over the bread and blesses it by waving it around 
You put your left hand in… the left hand goes over the wine and blesses it by shaking it over the element 
You put your head in… the priest then bows the head in prayer 
(You put your right/left hip in…) – this one seems to have been added later as different body parts were represented 
You put your whole self in… This is where we are invited to come forward to participate in the ritual of Communion/Eucharist/The Lord’s Supper 
You do the Hokey Pokey and you turn yourself around… The blessing of the elements by waving the hands over the Bread and Wine followed by the priest turning back around the congregation for the presentation and the eating from the Cup and Plate symbolized here. 
That’s what it’s all about. – A celebration of fun and mystery and a way of remembering the motions for blessing and receiving communion Hokey Pokey (while bowing and waving your arms) – This final act of the participants in the song reminds us of the kneeling to receive the elements all the while raising our hands above our heads open for the priest to place the bread in our hands, and then for us to take from the cup the common juice of the vine.



At October 18, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fantastic! It amazes me what you come up with!

At May 06, 2009, Anonymous David Youngdale said...

Well yes, David, I now remember this little song from my childhood, and it is interesting about the origins of it. Thank you for refreshing my memory and the info. I never knew. But who in the Sam Hill needs it? With your wealth of knowledge there has got to be something better than this that you can share, as you have so many, many times. Dave.

At May 07, 2009, Anonymous David Youngdale said...

Well, I may have had a rough day in the marketplace. Or maybe also I have some not so great memories of Hokey Pokey from elementary school days. But thank you David for so graciously accepting and recieving my message, negative though it may have been. Dave Youngdale.


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