"Blessed are the meek who scratch in the dirt
For they shall inherit what's left of the earth
Blessed are the kings who've left their thrones
They are buried in this valley of dry bones
Blessed all of you with an empty heart
For you got nothing from which you cannot part
Blessed is the ego
It's all we got this hour
Blessed is the voice that speaks truth to power
Blessed is the sex worker who sold her body tonight
She used what she got
To save her children's life
Blessed are you, the deaf cannot hear a scream
Blessed are the stupid who can dream
Blessed are the tin canned cardboard slums
Blessed is the spirit that overcomes."
- From Wave Of Sorrow by U2
Bono’s version of the Beatitudes appear at the end of a song he first attempted to write in 1985 but didn’t get finished until the Joshua Tree 20th Anniversary Edition in 2007. It had its origins in Bono’s first visited to Ethiopia as a result of Bob Geldof's Live Aid and although it would be some fifteen years before he would put his shoulder to the plough of transformation on that continent, the interest and consequent sorrow began during this first visit when he and his wife spent 6 weeks working at an orphanage with World Vision.
Wave of Sorrow is a fascinating and heart wrenching song in which Bono takes Scripture and uses it to resource an almost journal entry of his own experience. Bono, a man who is obsessed with the Scriptures, draws on the story of the Queen of Sheba from 1 Kings 10 and 2 Chronicles 9. He finds it hard to relate the barren wasteland of modern day famine ravaged Ethiopia with the one out of which the Queen of Sheba brings King Solomon rich spices, gold and precious stones.
He then engages Solomon and the Psalm writing King David in a question; "What lyric would you sing?" It seems to be the question that Bono is asking himself as he attempts to make lyric the experience that he and Ali are going through as mothers walk their babies as far as they have to to leave them down dead or in hope of last chance help. Waves of Sorrow is an attempt to put reality to lyric. It breeds more questions than answers; questions of abandonment, the questions of possibilities and questions of one's own involvement.
Though the questions are left to ponder, Bono concludes the song by juxtaposing existing reality with the hope and belief of a greater one. The lyric he attempts to write finds its foundation in Jesus Beatitudes, the wise poetic beginning to thye Sermon on The Mount found in the New Testament Scripture of Matthews 5. In his own version of the Beatitudes.
In a somewhat ironic fashion, Bono has made certain to not exclude himself from the mix: "Blessed is the ego/It's all we got this hour" - as only a self proclaimed egomaniac could. The “Blessed is the sex worker” line will no doubt cause controversial reaction. That sense of shock evokes surely the same outrageous shock that the religious people of Jesus day would have had to those original Beatitudes. Perhaps the line is about a particular person that Bono and Ali met and were disturbed and impressed by in a shocking way for them. In the end, as in Jesus version, there is a resolution for the marginalised, forgotten and outcast. It is Bono’s hope in this most appallingly disconcerting experience of his life.