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May 15, 2007

Comments

Catriona

Well, since you ask...

'Did you hear the mountains tremble' - I don't understand it and my instinct is to say "no" when the question is asked.

If you want one that is punningly funny but meaningless, how about 'I am the apple of God's eye' (The Grapefruit of the Lord)which I have never sung but caused much hilarity when discovered at college - No. 785 in SOF (new edition).

andy goodliff

The latter choice is a children's song ... so I'm less concerned (perhaps I shouldn't be!), although I'd never sing it with children.

graham

Care to elaborate on 'These are the Days of Elijah?' I think it can actually be redeemed, though I suspect that when I do so in my mind I am singing it with a different meaning to the author.

I can't think of the name of the song, but there is one that frequently changes from 1st to 3rd person and is just a confused and jumbled mess. I find that, nowadays, I more bothered by bad grammar than bad theology!

ash

I find 'Blessed by your Name' highly irritating for its overwhelming optimism. Singing that 'when the darkness closes in, Lord, still I will say "blessed be your name"' seems to me like the author has not experienced darkness. I think a much better line would be '...Lord, help me to say...', because having faith in your own faith is just irritating.

Tim

To be honest, if I thought too much about every word I am singing, I probably would rarely feel like singing anything and I would be in a constant state of criticsim towards whoever was leading worship (who probably hasn't read Gunton or Wright). And that isn't worship either!

It is very easy to knock dodgy songs, perhaps a more impressive post to throw up and stand by would be a list of 10 theologically strong worship songs. Then I could give that list to the worship leader for next Sunday.

andy goodliff

Tim. I hear your point, and perhaps my post was a little bit silly. But I also think that we don't think about what we're singing enough. People remember the lyrics to songs better than memorising scripture or the points of sermons and so a generation or more have had received their theology from the charismatic worship songs of the 80s and 90s and too many of the song writers are theologically illiterate. We encourage our preachers to train theologically, I think we need to do the same for our songwriters and I am definitely not the first to say that. Having said that, I may take your challenge to find 10 theologically strong worship songs.

andy goodliff

Graham, why is these are the days of elijah on the list. perhaps catriona should answer that. But for me, I admire what its trying to do, but not sure it achieves it. Its a fantastic tune, but what are we saying when we sing it at the end of the day?

Catriona

I am far from alone in disliking and struggling with 'These are the Days of Elijah'- at one of our NAM reflection days a group of us spent time trying to work out what it meant and why we disliked it so much.

Firstly the simple literal bit - clearly these are not the days of any of these people who a have long ago been translated or gathered to their ancestors.

If I be more generous and say 'these are the days that were spoken of by so-and-so', which is obvously not going to work as a song, then yes, I think I can get to what is being attempted here, but it doesn't mean I necessarily concur. It seems to me that quite a lot of bits of scripture are being 'splodged' together and, dare I say it, perhaps even the church getting a rather gradiose notion of itself as the incarnation of Elijah (we are the voice in the desert ...). I'm not sure that it actually focusses us towards God/Jesus/Spirit so much as affirm us as prophets (even prophets of doom perhaps) - which feels arrogant to me.

But hey, I'm just a heretic...

From a more practical viewpoint, this song causes more arguments between musicicians and congregations and more hands-in-pockets-I-refuse-to-sing-this responses than any other I have known. It seems a divisive song, and that isn't good either. In my epxerience some people find it too triumphalist, some too militant and some say they just don't understand it.

So there you have it. Nurl points or some such.

graham

Catriona, I wonder how the Psalms would fare if they were treated to the same kind of scrutiny. In fact, I wonder how any poem/song/parable/story would cope.

I don't think that Robin Mark really means that these are the days of Elijah; that much is clear. I also doubt that he means that these are the literal days of the Elijah referred to in Mal. 4 - as obviously we see that fulfilled in John the Baptist. Maybe he just means something like, 'these days that we are living in are analogous (in a number of ways) to the days of Elijah - days of miracles, power and prophecy, days in which we prepare the way of the Lord.'

Perhaps the phrase 'this is the year of Jubilee' should provide some sort of interpretative matrix for the song? Which year is the year of Jubilee?! The 'year' that began with the coming of Jesus and that
will end with his physical return. The 'last days' which are characterised in Matthew 24 and Acts 2. This is perfectly orthodox
eschatology. It may not be my eschatology, but it has been around a while.

The song seems to be saying that these days - this 'year' of Jubilee - are a culmination and consummation of all that has gone
before. All that the Old Covenant prefigured and all that the prophets pointed to has been fulfilled in Jesus - AND THEN SOME!

I don't think that the song is too triumphalistic (which I know that
many people think) as it includes the lines:

> And though these are days of great trials
> Of famine and darkness and sword
> Still we are the voice is the desert crying
> "Prepare ye the way of the Lord"

It is in the midst of darkness that we are to go about our work as labourers in the Vineyard, preparing the way of the Lord. This is good old-fashioned optimistic amillennialism! :-)

I don't particularly love this song, but I don't mind it. I used to hate it, but then I began to think about the year of Jubilee and I saw that there was actually no reason why I
could not sing this song. It is full of biblical references and allusions, it is rich in deep theology and it is a joyous song to
rouse the troops. But maybe I'm just not being discerning enough?

Catriona

Hi Graham
I'm sure you are very discerning, probably more so than I am. As you rightly say we could, if we so wished, demolish all sorts of things, even the Bible itself.

If it is of any help, I have long believed that all hymns and songs are the result of someone's earnest endeavour to offer worship to God. Nonetheless, as a worship leader, I have to be careful and responsible in my choices. Just because the endeavour is earnest, and just because Kingsway or Kevin Mayhew publish something doesn't mean it's good for general use. I do allow for things I think are dubious or even twaddle to be used, and often have things I don't like (a different issue)if they fit with the service theme. At least once a year I let my congregation choose all the hymns which has some very 'interesting' results.

Going back to 'these are the days' I think Jubilee is a fantastic theme, and your thoughts on the song are helpful (thank you) and give a balance to the negatives I mostly hear.

I guess for me, part of balancing act is how much explanation would be needed 'from the front' in order to aid singing a hymn/song and/or the potnetial for confusion. Had a mildly amusing moment on Thursday when the vicar's sermon seemed to contradict the next hymn (immortal invisible) - he had said the light shows us God, the hymn says the splendour or light hides God. Hey ho!

Anyway, it has been interesting to exchange views and I hope you can forgive my heresy. ;-)

graham

'At least once a year I let my congregation choose all the hymns which has some very 'interesting' results.'

Goodness, you have more faith or courage than I! :-)

You make a very good point about the level of explanation needed to aid a song. That's not something I'd really given much thought to.

An old lecturer of mine used to talk about the days of Wesley and co. and how people learnt their theolgy from the songs they sang. He went on to say that the scary thing is, they still do!

I wouldn't want you role for all the Tea in Tescos!

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