Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Are We Smiling Yet?

Sandy at Curly's Corner invited me to come round to her place and pick up this cute award, which came to her by way of her good blogging friend Carol at Charli and Me. Sandy's passing it out to everyone on her blog roll as well as anyone who stops by to read her blog. Thank you so much, Sandy!

By their example and in the spirit of their kindness, I'm also passing this lovely little award on to everyone who stops by to read my blog as well as those already on my Favorites list. Every blog I visit can give me reason to smile . . . in some way or other . . . so feel free to pick this up for yourself and pass it along.

But of course there is one tiny little catch..... The tag that goes along with the award. The tag is this: Name five songs that you are embarrassed to sing.

. . . Five songs I'm embarrassed to sing. Hoo-boy! If my pipes and my wind are working, I'm not exactly embarrassed to sing anything . . . that is, if it's actually singable and it won't scandalize the parish (when I've got a parish) . . .

But then, there are those songs I'm embarrassed to sing, where the scandal comes because I am embarrassed to sing them. Here, then, is my own Hall of Shame:

1) In the Garden. Yes, I'm aware that a lot of very nice people get a lot of comfort out of this hymn. Maybe that's you (are you smiling yet?). A lot of people also get a lot of comfort out of Sugar Frosted Flakes. The perpetrator of this religious ditty, C. Austin Miles, claims he was inspired by the story of Mary Magdalene coming to the empty tomb of Christ the first Easter morning. If so, his Mary Magdalene and Jesus of Nazareth were a pair that would warm the cockles of Dan Brown's heart. A prettier lovers' tryst you never stumbled upon. Gnostic, sentimental, unbiblical. And I'm supposed to sing this? Feh!

In the same vein is

2) He Lives. "You ask me how I know He lives? He lives within my heart!" No, you poor creature, you know He lives because the Holy Spirit has revealed that fact to you in the Holy Scriptures! Your feelings will tell you all sorts of lies. Go through some horrible tragedy, and your heart will tell you God has abandoned you, even though He's right with you all along. Feelings are great, if they fit the facts. But even if they don't, the truth of what God did in Jesus Christ keeps on going and you can grab hold of it by faith. That's how I know He lives. That's a song worth singing, not a poor pitiful piece of pietistic poetry set to a circus tune.

(So are we smiling yet?)

3) Here I Am, Lord. The basic idea of this hymn is fine. It's about responding to God's call to serve Him in the world. It's used a lot for ordination and commitment services, and appropriately, too. But there's this phrase in the chorus: "Is it I, Lord?" I'm sorry, but without fail that reminds me of what Judas said to Jesus just before he betrayed Him. And what's up with this "I will go, Lord, if You lead me"? Am I supposed to proclaim that God might call someone to do His will, then carelessly forget to guide that person into how and when and where? I sing that, and I feel like I'm putting conditions on my obedience. Before God, that's something I'm embarrassed to do.

4) Any modern "praise" chorus where you could excise the word "Jesus" or "Lord" and put in "Baby" instead, and it wouldn't make a dime's worth of difference. See my DaVinci Code reference under Embarrassing Song No. 1. Especially when I have to stand there for ten minutes singing the same damn words over and over twenty times. Are the Catholics right about Purgatory? That's where these perpetrations make me feel I am. Embarrassing.

5) Any good traditional hymn that's been bowlderized and politically-corrected by modern hymnbook editors, a la the efforts of the committee that patched together the 1990 Presbyterian Hymnal. Witness what was done to Be Thou My Vision, one of my favorites. As a woman, I was never offended by "Thou my great Father, I Thy true son." Give me credit for some sense: It's about relationship, not sex or gender. Never mind! That line is out, out, out! Ditto the parts about "High King of heaven." That title for God brought us the rich Irishness of the hymn, with its echoes of all the petty chieftains pledging fealty to the high king at Tara, now signifying the desires and demands of our lives bowing the knee to Christ as universal Sovereign. That's gone, people! We don't want to offend anybody with any reminders that there might be a hierarchy in creation, with the uncreated Lord at the top, oh, no! I'm surprised the wise editors left in the part about "Ruler of all" at the end. But I guess they knew they had to draw the line somewhere, and they wanted a ruler to draw it with.

This version embarrasses me so much, I won't program this hymn without putting the unaltered version in as an insert in the bulletin. Preferably with the third verse that's always excised from American hymnals:

Be thou my breastplate, my sword for the fight;
be thou my whole armor, be thou my true might;
be thou my soul's shelter, be thou my strong tower:
O raise thou me heavenward, great Power of my power.

That's something I'll never be embarrassed to sing.

But O, Sandy! Are you embarrassed you passed this award on to me? Are we still smiling?


Sandy said...

No, my friend, I am not embarrassed that I passed that award to you! You made me not only smile, you made me laugh!

Mile High Pixie said...

Baahaha!! Mary M and Jesus strolling along to "In The Garden." Might as well be strolling to the Disney "Sleeping Beauty" song "Once Upon A Dream." Only if Mary M was a solid soprano...