Monday, July 26, 2010

our boundless god

I just came across this hymn written by Brian Wren, and I thought I'd share it.

Name unnamed, hidden and shown, knowing and known, Gloria!

Beautifully moving, ceaselessly forming,
growing, emerging with awesome delight,
Maker of Rainbows, glowing with color,
arching in wonder,
energy flowing in darkness and light:

Name unnamed...

Spinner of chaos, pulling and twisting,
freeing the fibers of pattern and form,
Weaver of Stories, famed or unspoken,
tangled or broken,
shaping a tapestry vivid and warm:

Name unnamed...

Nudging Discomfort, prodding and shaking,
waking our lives to creative unease,
Straight-talking Lover, checking and humbling
jargon and grumbling,
speaking the truth that refreshes and frees:

Name unnamed...

Midwife of Changes, skillfully guiding,
drawing us out through the shock of the new,
Woman of Wisdom, deeply perceiving,
never deceiving,
freeing and leading in all that we do:

Name unnamed...

Daredevil Gambler, risking and loving,
giving us freedom to shatter your dreams,
Lifegiving Loser, wounded and weeping,
dancing and leaping,
sharing the caring that heals and redeems.

Name unnamed, hidden and shown, knowing and known, Gloria!

(Words: Brian Wren, 1936-, Copyright 1989 Hope Publishing Co.; Music: W. Frederick Wooden, 1953- , Copyright 1992 Unitarian Universalist Association; from "Singing the Living Tradition," Beacon Press:Boston, 1993, #31.)

Friday, July 23, 2010

choosing battles

I'm increasingly aware of the importance of language throughout a worship service.  I'm a big advocate of expansive language in hymns, and I prefer newer, less archaic translations of the Bible, but I'm having a another problem.

A large percent of the choral music available doesn't fit with these ideas about expansive language.  The market is flooded with what I'd consider poor theologies based on sacrificial atonement, patriarch/monarch images of God, and a downright preference for the old hymns just rearranged without any consideration for what they mean in today's society.

So when the choir is preparing a new song, I'm torn.  When should I consider changing texts to meet the theological needs of our expansive congregation, and when should I just lay low?

I know that one faction will appreciate the effort, and I know another will miss the words that are so familiar.  I don't for one moment believe that any of the singers would say that they don't agree with the idea of changing the texts, but putting it into practice is difficult.

Another sticking point is the language used elsewhere in worship.  I'd say 100% of the printed liturgy (call to worship, prayers of confession/assurance, benediction, etc.) conforms to an expansive theology. The issue is the reading of scripture. We still read from primarily masculine influenced sources. Although horiztonal language (people talking about people) is general "inclusive,"  the vertical (God-language) is primarily masculine.

So if the language we are recieving from scripture is different from the language of the liturgy is different from the language of the hymns is different from the language of the special music, what are we saying here?  Does this show diversity or just lack of cohesion?

One suggestion from a friend was to always ensure that the horizontal language was expansive, since it refers directly to the people who will be singing and hearing the music. Then in the cases of vertical language, pick and choose depending on the number of "offending" occurrences. And in the latter case, perhaps from time-to-time we should consider flipping the gender to help us consider the text from a different perspective.

I'm guessing I'll struggle with this in every situation for a long time to come, but that, as they say, is the rub. 

Friday, July 9, 2010

New Wine In Old Wine Skins

"Laudate Dominum" from TaizĂ© is one of the community's most recognizable works.  It always struck a chord with me, and then I realized why.  The basis for this tune has been around centuries, and this variation on it continues a wonderful heritage.

La folia is one of the oldest remembered European musical themes, or primary material, generally melodic, of a composition, on record. (Wikipedia)

Thursday, July 1, 2010

another progressive Christian musician/blogger

Just ran across Progressive Christian Worship Music in a link from the UCC Musicians National Network conference (which I'm not at this year.)  It's good to see more people thinking about this and expressing their thoughts openly!