Sunday, March 23, 2008

Some Easter "Hymns" Need to Be Egged

A brief rant before I retire to bed this Easter Sunday evening:

I was just downstairs, plinking out Easter hymns on my new old piano, out of the 1933 Hymnal. "Come Ye Faithful, Raise the Strain." "Welcome, Happy Morning." "The Strife Is O’er." "Jesus Christ Is Risen Today." Good, solid hymns with good, solid doctrine about what Jesus really did for us on the cross and at the empty tomb.

So what did I get for one of the two hymns in the church where I preached this morning? "He Lives." What were people singing all over "evangelical" America this morning? "He Lives." Which is not really about Jesus and His resurrection and what He’s accomplished at all, it’s about "me" and how Jesus makes me feeeeeeeeel!

I was stuck with it because the organist at Indian Hill* picks all the hymns and, in the absence of a regular pastor, what he says, goes.

Lord help me, every year I’m less able to tolerate that piece of gnostic, sentimental chozzerai.

This morning I barely sang it. I went "la-la-la" to the melody line in first verse, and for the other two I made a half-assed attempt at following the alto line, still on "la-la-la."

Irreverent, you say?

Ha! I gave the bloody piece of tripe exactly what it deserved, and more.

No, I didn’t disrupt anyone else’s worship "experience." The organ was behind me and it quite effectively drowned me out. Which was the idea.

. . . I need to stop feeling angry about this. It’s not my calling to go on a one-woman crusade against bad Christian music. It is my calling to preach the gospel of Christ crucified and risen again, and Lord helping, I believe I did that this morning.

But I see I've gotten sidetracked in my rant. It ultimately isn’t about disgust. It’s about sadness.

Sadness that so few modern hymnals have the great classic Easter hymns in them at all. Sadness that it's not popular or fashionable to sing them even if they are. We’re losing our musical heritage, and with it, a great support to our faith. Something like "The Strife Is O’er" goes a lot farther is teaching a Christian what he believes and why he should believe it, than something like "Christ Arose."

But even "Christ Arose" is better than "He Lives." Gaaahhhhggghhh!

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