U2’s 2004 album “How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb” ends with “Yahweh,” which contains several Advent themes. It’s a prayer of self-dedication that names the world’s broken condition and looks forward to God’s coming redemption.
The album has a Scriptural shape, as does its predecessor, released in 2001, “All That You Can’t Leave Behind.” Both albums are meditations on life after the fall.
“All That You Can’t Leave Behind” ponders the dynamics of grace at work in a broken world. The album’s opening and closing songs (“Beautiful Day” and “Grace”) form an inclusio highlighting this theme.
“How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb,” on the other hand, begins with “Vertigo,” which considers the confused state of creation and our bewildering experience in it. Even though the human is shattered, however, we are inexorably drawn toward some sort of eschatological deliverance.Hello hello I’m at a place called Vertigo It’s everything I wish I didn’t know Except you give me something I can feel
Whereas “All That You Can’t Leave Behind” ponders God’s already-arriving redemptive work in the world, “Vertigo” kicks off the subsequent album by looking ahead to God’s future rescue.
“How To Dismantle,” then, is more of an Advent album, and “Yahweh” makes this explicit.
This is the first of three verses, each of which is a prayer of self-dedication:Take these shoes Click clacking down some dead end street Take these shoes And make them fit Take this shirt Polyester white trash made in nowhere Take this shirt And make it clean, clean Take this soul Stranded in some skin and bones Take this soul And make it sing
The chorus looks ahead to God’s coming deliverance with a longing fueled by creation’s pain:Yahweh, Yahweh Always pain before a child is born Yahweh, Yahweh Still I’m waiting for the dawn
I’ve been playing the song regularly these days, especially over the last week. I’ve adopted it, along with the one below, as a running Advent prayer.
Almighty and eternal God, so draw our hearts to you, so guide our minds, so fill our imaginations, so control our wills, that we may be wholly yours, utterly dedicated to you; and then use us, we pray, as you will, and always to your glory and the welfare of your people; through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.