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?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.
By the way, I am not doing any actual research. I am just interested in what folks have to say.
"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 Almighty – Lobe 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.