Saturday, February 20, 2010

frog blog hymns discussion

Over on her frog blog, 1-4 grace started an interesting discussion about hymns. Her blog's not live any more, so I removed the link.
Tell me your own ideas of hymns which are meaningful, those which are painful or stir other negative feelings. What hymns do you really like? Which ones could you do without?

By the way, I am not doing any actual research. I am just interested in what folks have to say.
Good one! I'll begin with the negative stuff, which includes Amazing Grace. A while back I said to someone "it has no Christology and no theology (not to mention the near-obligatory funereal-sounding bagpipe versions at actual funerals)..." he responded "agreed, but a little soteriology..." to that one I needed to reply, "disembodied soteriology? I do not think so!" Then there's Borning Cry, part of the pain of which I know is John Ylvisaker's typically tawdry tune. The hyper-militant Lift High the Cross almost grossed me out the first time I heard it, but it's still better than Onward Christian Soldiers.

"Among the" (as our cultural anthro teacher tried teaching us not to say) more recent hymns I like a lot, I'll list Marty Haugen's Here in this Place / Gather Us In—I especially love how the harmony undulates between major and modal; Now the Silence with words by Jerry Vajda, music from Carl Schalk; Earth and All Stars, preferably in the original more rhythmically dynamic version. Rise, Shine, You People Ron Klug's text with the tune Wojtkiewiecz, after composer Dale Wood's original Polish name... "He comes to us by sin and death surrounded, with grace unbounded" moves me to tears. I love #524 in the ELCA's new Evangelical Lutheran Worship, What Is This Place and blogged about it all of three years ago. Praise songs? Definitely Shout to the Lord!

For older hymns, I love Gently Raise the Sacred Strain, #146 in the current LDS hymnal. Praise to the Lord, the AlmightyLobe den Herren a fabulous one to lead from the organ and I have especially wonderful memories of singing it during my first interview weekend in Utah with the Utah PCUSA Presbytery and the Utah UCC Association convening together; singing with a room full of pastors almost always is a great experience. One more for now: Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing, because What's not to love about it?

Despite my own reasonable sensitivity to inclusive (or not) language, in many cases I don't like the texts of old familiars distorted simply to make a point of being inclusive. I'll probably come back and add a few essentials when I suddenly remember I've left them out, but that's all for now.


  1. Thanks for sharing. Sadly, many of the newer ones you mentioned, I do not actually know.
    I guess it is difference of denominiations and maybe geographic as well. Our "new" hymnal(which will not be new soon, as we have a committee working on one now) included a lot of international hymns. Some work out great and others are more awkward due to meter and syllable emphasis being off. Many of the ones from Korea have great words, but are just not singable.
    I love Praise God, the Lord the Almighty. Can't stand any with militant words or images. Ugh. What happened to the Prince of Peace?
    Thanks for weighing in and giving me some more to ponder

  2. I like one in our new hymnbook "More Voices" named "Called By Earth and Sky" - it's very appropriate for a church (like ours) whose creed commits to "Live with respect in Creation."

    And this old Trinitarian lady still loves "Holy Holy Holy". Most of my denomination would flog me for saying that, but what the heck - I'm getting old - I can say whatever I want.

    Hymn that I can barely type the title of because the very mention of it makes me want to puke:

    In the Freakin' Garden. Ugh.


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