Hymning and Hawing


I’m glad I’m not alone in all this . . .

Cat Rotator's Quarterly

I grew up listening to spirituals as lullabies and ended up sort of saturated by classical and 1950s-60s folk music (Ian and Sylvia, Odetta, Judy Collins, the Limelighters, Kingston Trio). My musical interests continued as I grew older. When you are a semi-professional musician, especially one with an interest in pipe organ, you get exposed to a great deal of sacred music. Many of the great works of the western canon were written for use in worship services, or for a particular religious celebration or commemoration, or to retell a story (Hayden’s Creation, for example). You also learn the basics of music history, from Medieval through the Romantic in most cases, either in a formal class or through osmosis. And you understand why certain lyrics and musical patters go together. Or at least, did until now.

At some point, I suspect in the 1960s in the United States, certain…

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2 thoughts on “Hymning and Hawing

  1. Her concluding comment about the doxology makes me want to comment that our Methodist church alternates the two tunes, and I personally don’t like playing the inclusive version (#94 in our hymnal) because there are too many notes to play in certain spots — my objection is to the setting rather than the words.

    When we talk about inclusive language, my question is, how is the other language exclusive? Is it exclusive by being specific and precise, or it is exclusive by saying those not named are therefore prevented from participation? How does being specific about the gender of Jesus Christ (he did, after all, have a specific gender as a human) exclude anyone of the other gender, for example?

    C.S. Lewis would probably call all this hymn-editing a form a chronological snobbery. Changing it because it makes us uncomfortable undoes a lot of what church is all about. We need to become uncomfortable about ourselves as we are, so we can become the people we should be (we shall be like Him for we shall see Him as He is). We fail to learn from the past when we do this. We also start creating God in our image, which is a form of idolatry.

    And I haven’t even hit on the literary problems of these changes, the arrogance to edit another person’s works without saying you have done so. There are just too many topics, all of them concerning. So I guess I’d better stop here.


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