Thursday, July 02, 2009

Hymns and Praise

This quiz is brought to you by my upcoming retirement (after 9 years) of high school youth group leadership.

Can you identify which verses below are from hymns, and which ones are from typical contemporary praise songs?

Come, thou fount of every blessing, tune my heart to sing thy grace.
Streams of mercy, never ceasing, call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet, sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount, I’m fixed upon it, mount of God’s unchanging love.

Jesus, you are so totally cool.
You are, like, so awesome.
I am so in love with you.
You are, like, way better than my old boyfriend/girlfriend. (repeat 4 times)

Holy Spirit, come with power, breathe into our aching night.
We expect you this glad hour, waiting for your strength and light.
We are fearful, we are ailing, we are weak and selfish too.
Break upon your congregation; give us vigor, life anew.

God, you are so worthy of me praising you.
I’m really glad about you.
You are everything I need.
You are so worthy, you are like a medieval political leader to me (repeat 8 times)

Healer of our every ill, light of each tomorrow,
Give us peace beyond our fear, and hope beyond our sorrow.
You who know our fears and sadness, grace us with your peace and gladness.
Spirit of all comfort, fill our hearts.

I’m going to praise you God, and it will feel so good to me.
I’m praising you right now God and it feels so good to me.
I just praised you God, and it felt so good to me.
Because, God, you are all about me (repeat 64 times)

Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart;
Naught be all else to me save that thou art.
Thou my best thought, by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, thy presence my light.

1. Come Thou Fount (1758)
2. Minor Mennonite parody of praise song 1 (2009)
3. Holy Spirit, come with power (1970)
4. Minor Mennonite parody of praise song 2 (2009)
5. Healer of our every ill (1986)
6. Minor Mennonite parody of praise song 3 (2009)
7. Be thou my vision (1905)

OK, so it's not fair to compare real, classic hymns to parodies. But this is the internet, so I'm not sure why you would expect fairness, instead of selective data provided as slanted evidence to back up a partisan talking point.

The thing is, I know praise songs are not about theology, or logic, or grammar. They are about emotion. And I know that it’s good for people to reach the spirit of the divine in whatever way works for them, even if it's by pure emotion.

It’s just hard for me to see people in the spiritual buffet line bypass the poetic, weighty, and deeply nutritious meal of a good hymn and head straight for the cotton candy and Jolt Cola of the typical praise song. Plus, I fear that too much praise music is really saying My God is Better Than Your God, which I believe to be a harmful gateway idea that eventually leads to Crusade and Jihad, especially if you are hopped up on sugar and caffeine.

On the other hand, there are now some hymns that I can no longer sing without tearing up, like Come Thou Font and Be Thou My Vision. I have no idea why this happens, other than they touch some deep place inside me that I don’t understand. Maybe it takes a decade of singing them before they seep into you and grab hold.

Anyway, while I won’t be missing praise music during my youth leader retirement, I will miss hanging out with our church’s high school youth. Every class of youth has been filled with great kids, and they’ve challenged me in more ways than they know. More importantly, they’ve always been kind enough to laugh at a minimal threshold of my lame jokes. I’ll now have to rely on my own kids for that, and the outlook isn't so good on that front these days. I guess I'll have to console myself by crying during a good hymn.


Tracy said...

So glad I stumbled across your blog. Hope all is well with you.

Robert Sievers said...


One reason why we always worked so well together was because when we both agreed on an issue, that carried some weight. I could agree more. By the way, I am back in town, so let's find an excuse to get together sometimes in the near future.

Robert Sievers said...

That was "I couldn't agree more"

Dan S said...

Sounds good Bob. I'm in Columbus this week at the Mennonite convention, but let's touch base after I get back.

David Wright said...

Hymn snob.

Dan S said...

In honor of Sarah Palin's "retirment," my response is:

You Betcha!

Fingtree said...

"You Betcha" alright! I'm hoping for that 'PP' ticket come 2012. Palin/Palosi.

Anonymous said...

"you are like a medieval political leader to me"
----Ummm....that doesn't exactly sound like a compliment. Did I miss something there?

Anonymous said...

Stumbled onto your blog cuz I googled the lyrics to "Holy spirit come with power" for leading music tomorrow and had a really good chuckle... particularly the tune "God you are all about me" :) I agree, so many praise songs just don't get us beyond ourselves! Thanks!