The power of song ..... and getting past the theological barrier!Hymnody has been a major force for the transmission of theological concepts over the millennia. From the beautiful simplicity of the fourth century "Of the Father's Love Begotten" to the contemporary drive of Faith Hill's vision of the end times, "There Will Come a Day," theology has found its way into the words we sing.
But often, in church settings, clergy who have long since moved beyond the literal interpretation of the doctrinal claims of their denominations continue to choose hymns that promote that same doctrine or allow music directors to do so.
In With or Without God, I argued that if you couldn't read it in the pulpit, you shouldn't sing it in the pew. Since then, my congregation, West Hill United, has been forced to play the part of crash test dummies, singing hymns that have been tweaked or entirely rewritten. They are a gracious lot!
In addition to being able to sing them to traditional tunes, the brilliant and prolific composer, Ron Klusmeier, whose work is well-known and loved in liberal church circles, is hard at work creating new music for them, too! I am so excited about that. In fact, it's driving me a bit crazy that I can't peek over his shoulder and see what he's up to! Having two choices of music will allow the music to be enjoyed far outside the walls of church, as well. Because the songs are all doctrine free, they can be sung in any setting.
Here are a few of the new songs I have rewritten over the past few months. Do let me know which is your favourite and, if you want, send me a song you'd like me to try to rewrite. I'll try to rise to the challenge!
Nearer, My God, to Thee, rewritten as For Our Humanity
Amazing Grace, rewritten as Love, Again
The Church's One Foundation, rewritten as 'Til All, in Truth, are Free