No redundo

This is about the expression return again, as in the title of my 6/26/23 posting. You might have suspected that the expression is often pleonastic / redundant (for emphasis or clarity), a kind of combo of return and come (back) again: like 3 am in the morning or see with one’s one eyes.

But my title was in fact about returning a second time — my second return home from SUMC within a few days. And it turns out that the expression almost always is used for a second, or repeat, return. Not redundantly at all.

A further example: the hymn Return Again (SH335, that is, on page 335 of the (1991) Denson revision of The Sacred Harp, a standard collection of shapenote hymns).

SH335 has a tune by John Newton, from 1779; and an old text arranged by William L. Williams in 1850. At first glance the title looks redundant:

[verse 1]
Savior, visit thy plantation,
Grant us Lord, a gracious rain!
All will come to desolation,
Unless Thou return again.

But no, so long as you know that in Christian belief, Jesus Christ died on the cross and was buried, but then returned to earth — was resurrected — to save humankind. That’s the first return.

What the text of the hymn provides is an appeal to Jesus Christ, asking him to return a second time, to perform the miracle of bringing rain to parched fields. Well, it’s probably all a lovely agricultural metaphor for bringing relief to our earthly sufferings, whatever they are. (If you believe in Jesus Christ, you will be relieved of your sufferings in heaven, but meanwhile life is painful and difficult, and people pray for Jesus Christ to ease their lives until the release of death. Grant us Lord, a gracious rain ‘a rain of God’s grace’.)

Here’s the rest from SH:

[verse 2]
Keep no longer at a distance,
Shine upon us from on high!
Lest for want of Thy assistance,
Ev’ry plant should droop and die.

Lord revive us! Lord revive us!
All our help must come from thee;
Lord revive us! O revive us!
All our help must come from Thee.

Verse 2 continues the agricultural metaphor. The refrain is all raw exhortation; it is, in fact, a “shouting song”, meant to be belted out even more energetically and loudly than the rest of the singing (which, ideally, is noisy and hard-driving — raw stuff).

From my 3/28/11 posting “Singing and cake”:

during the singing the weather [mostly cold rain] began to clear and warm up. (When we sang 335 “Return Again”, Marian [Bush, who got a cake for her 94th birthday] guffawed helplessly at the line “Grant us, Lord, a gracious rain!”…)

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