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David Rogers

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There was a new hymnbook launched in New Zealand last year that goes under the name Hope is our song. Found amongst the pages can be found such favourites as the new Hymn 'Jumping Jesus'. The third and final verse of which is:

Jumping Jesus, Jumping Jesus,

puts the bounce into my life,

takes my hand and whispers softly,

'love's the thing, not war and strife'.

We will leap together so:

jumping, jumping, here I go!

Learning how he does that trick,

bouncing on his Pogo stick;

off he goes - I'd best be

quick - Jumping Jesus.

 

There are other examples of a similar standard of work, however every time I try to type them in here, I find myself lying in the corner in a foetal position, whimpering to myself.

 

 

CTT

 

 

Oh. my. God.

 

 

 

I once saw, in some songbook or other, a ditty with one verse which ran:

 

Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, Jesus,

Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.

 

Other verses were similarly creative. At the footer, was the legend 'Words copyright....'

 

Here at the Minster, we have one particularly odd-looking altar-frontal. It consists of an embroidered backcloth, in the centre of which is stitched an irregular and spiky sliver shape. Apparently if one says 'Jesus' into an oscilloscope, this is the graphic representaion which ensues.

 

I have never been informed as to precisely how one should enunciate 'Jesus', in order to arrive at this precise result.

 

 

 

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I once saw, in some songbook or other, a ditty with one verse which ran:

 

Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, Jesus,

Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.

 

Other verses were similarly creative. At the footer, was the legend 'Words copyright....'

 

 

 

 

It's easy to mock, but this is right up there with the finest of the First world war poets, namely Pte. Baldrick. Indeed, this hymn could even BE from his oeuvre. Whilst it breaks new ground in terms of metre, in other respects the stark, minimalist hallmarks are there: consider the classic "Wartime guns":

 

Boom, boom, boom, boom,

Boom, boom, boom!

 

Boom, boom, boom, boom...

 

...how his superior, Capt. Blackadder, was able to predict how the second stanza concluded is anybody's guess.

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It's easy to mock, but this is right up there with the finest of the First world war poets, namely Pte. Baldrick. Indeed, this hymn could even BE from his oeuvre. Whilst it breaks new ground in terms of metre, in other respects the stark, minimalist hallmarks are there: consider the classic "Wartime guns":

 

Boom, boom, boom, boom,

Boom, boom, boom!

 

Boom, boom, boom, boom...

 

...how his superior, Capt. Blackadder, was able to predict how the second stanza concluded is anybody's guess.

 

When considering the attempts of some clergy and musicians to reach out to disaffected teenagers by bombarding them with 70s folk music pastiche, the good captain may well have observed,

 

'But the plan had one flaw....'

 

I'm sure that you can fill in the rest.

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[quote name='pcnd5584' date='Jun 30 2011, 11:13 PM'

I once saw, in some songbook or other, a ditty with one verse which ran:

 

Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, Jesus,

Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.

 

Other verses were similarly creative. At the footer, was the legend 'Words copyright....'

I might have said this before. But repetition of one word doesn't a banal musical setting make otherwise we would have to consign:

 

Alleluia,

Alleluia,

Alleluia, Alleluia,

Alleluia.

 

Alleluia,

Alleluia,

Alleluia, Alleluia,

Alleluia.

 

from our repertoire.

 

Bye, bye, Handel. Or Mozart.

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I might have said this before. But repetition of one word doesn't a banal musical setting make otherwise we would have to consign:

 

Alleluia,

Alleluia,

Alleluia, Alleluia,

Alleluia.

 

Alleluia,

Alleluia,

Alleluia, Alleluia,

Alleluia.

 

from our repertoire.

 

Bye, bye, Handel. Or Mozart.

True, but that's hardly comparing like with like, is it?

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[quote name=pcnd5584' date='Jun 30 2011, 11:13 PM'

I once saw, in some songbook or other, a ditty with one verse which ran:

 

Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, Jesus,

Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.

 

Other verses were similarly creative. At the footer, was the legend 'Words copyright....'

 

I might have said this before. But repetition of one word doesn't a banal musical setting make otherwise we would have to consign:

 

Alleluia,

Alleluia,

Alleluia, Alleluia,

Alleluia.

 

Alleluia,

Alleluia,

Alleluia, Alleluia,

Alleluia.

 

from our repertoire.

 

Bye, bye, Handel. Or Mozart.

 

 

Indeed - although As Vox says, this is not quite a fair comparison.

 

In any case, I made no comment about the perceived banality of such a piece - in fact, I did not even mention the word. My surprise was directed solely at the nerve of the person who wished (apparently) to copyright such a text.

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On the "Alleluia" theme, I have in front of me a worship song whose first verse consists of nothing more than 8 repetitions of this word. The subsequent verses are similarly amoeba-friendly: "Jesus is Lord..."; "And I love him..."; and so it goes on, until we come to the challenging note: "Additional verses may be composed to suit the occasion". (Neveretheless some examples are suggested in case the intellectual hurdle is too high.) The "tune", it almost goes without saying, is dreary and depressing in the extreme, It does not exceed the compass of a fourth and the second half is, apart from the final two notes, an exact repetition of the first. You will all no doubt tell me that this song is terribly well known and popular. I would believe you. It might serve for brainwashing five-year-olds, I suppose.

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True, but that's hardly comparing like with like, is it?

It is comparing like with like as far as what we have been presented with goes. If we are supposed to make a value judgement we should be shown the music or given a link to a recording.

 

And I appreciate pcnd was referring to the copyright notice; I presume every commercial publisher is obliged to add copyright notices here, there and everywhere to protect their investment.

 

I'll try to rediscover my sense of humour.

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It is comparing like with like as far as what we have been presented with goes. If we are supposed to make a value judgement we should be shown the music or given a link to a recording.

 

And I appreciate pcnd was referring to the copyright notice; I presume every commercial publisher is obliged to add copyright notices here, there and everywhere to protect their investment.

 

I'll try to rediscover my sense of humour.

 

Perhaps the tune to "Jesus jesus" and "Hallelujah" is one and the same?

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[quote name='pcnd5584' date='Jun 30 2011, 11:13 PM'

I once saw, in some songbook or other, a ditty with one verse which ran:

 

Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, Jesus,

Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.

 

Other verses were similarly creative. At the footer, was the legend 'Words copyright....'

 

I might have said this before. But repetition of one word doesn't a banal musical setting make otherwise we would have to consign:

 

Alleluia,

Alleluia,

Alleluia, Alleluia,

Alleluia.

 

Alleluia,

Alleluia,

Alleluia, Alleluia,

Alleluia.

 

from our repertoire.

 

Bye, bye, Handel. Or Mozart.

 

==========================

 

 

Don't forget the "Amen Chorus".

 

MM

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Wells Cathedral shop - today - all was well for CD browsing etc. - Mrs AJ and daughters finishing lunch on the green - when one of the operatives put on a CD of 'folksified' hymns. Alleluia, Song to Jesus came on as an upbeat Jig in 6/8 with each line starting on the second quaver of the bar! 'Fiddle' obligato and up beat backing were included and it was sung by a lady who could just have stopped off en route from one of the outpost fields of the Glastonbury Festival - certainly not the main stage - it was not Beyonce! The whole effect was ghastly - I really do wonder why someone would actually want to wreck a perfectly good hymn in this way and why those on duty in the shop would think that anyone would want to listen to it.

 

A

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Wells Cathedral shop - today - all was well for CD browsing etc. - Mrs AJ and daughters finishing lunch on the green - when one of the operatives put on a CD of 'folksified' hymns. Alleluia, Song to Jesus came on as an upbeat Jig in 6/8 with each line starting on the second quaver of the bar! 'Fiddle' obligato and up beat backing were included and it was sung by a lady who could just have stopped off en route from one of the outpost fields of the Glastonbury Festival - certainly not the main stage - it was not Beyonce! The whole effect was ghastly - I really do wonder why someone would actually want to wreck a perfectly good hymn in this way and why those on duty in the shop would think that anyone would want to listen to it.

 

A

 

 

=====================================

 

 

Don't you think it's important to make the hymns relevant to the youth of to-day, and to inject new life into the old hymns?

 

This was the question posed to a number of local organists at a "seminar" some 30 years ago, organised by a "happy clappy" sect bent on showing us the way forward; the leader of which was rhythm guitarist, and who's girl-friend was little more than an up-tempo, old-style bar-crooner.

 

They were ghastly also, and swanned around the locality as if they were celebrities; always arriving in a flashy, pimped out van covered in fish symbols and flowers.

 

Shortly after the somewhat tragic accident, the same organists who had been "retired," like clapped out pit-ponies, (but who still met in the pub of a Sunday evening), mentioned the inguest and coroner's report; their untimely end the result of a head-on collision with a milk-tanker as they journeyed home after a summer "Jesus meet."

 

It was a mellow and thoughtful conversation almost to the end, and although recognising that we never saw eye-to-eye with the "musicians" in the fishmonger's van, (as we labelled it), we at least donned the cap of sanctimony, whatever our personal feelings about the destruction they had wrought.

 

The subdued nature of our conversation came to an abrupt end, when dear old Cedric (prior to his untimely electrocution), commented, "I expect the church will miss them."

 

"Well thank God the driver of the milk-tanker didn't," replied Arthur; a man with a somewhat cynical disposition.

 

After that, there wasn't a dry eye in the house, and the whole thing degenerated into an Irish wake.

 

MM

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=====================================

 

 

Don't you think it's important to make the hymns relevant to the youth of to-day, and to inject new life into the old hymns?

 

MM

 

Maybe I'll try the idea out on some of them tomorrow at work!

 

A

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Maybe I'll try the idea out on some of them tomorrow at work!

You could also try "Bright the vision that delighted" to the usual tune, but with each line to the following rhythm: dotted-q, sq, dotted-q, sq, cr, cr, m, m. You'd need to tie the two minims at the ends of lines 2 and 4 - or alternatively you could try interpolating a gibbon-like "Oo" after line 2 and an "Oi!" after line 4.

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You could also try "Bright the vision that delighted" to the usual tune, but with each line to the following rhythm: dotted-q, sq, dotted-q, sq, cr, cr, m, m. You'd need to tie the two minims at the ends of lines 2 and 4 - or alternatively you could try interpolating a gibbon-like "Oo" after line 2 and an "Oi!" after line 4.

 

This sounds as if it could be a child protection issue......!

 

A

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You could also try "Bright the vision that delighted" to the usual tune, but with each line to the following rhythm: dotted-q, sq, dotted-q, sq, cr, cr, m, m. You'd need to tie the two minims at the ends of lines 2 and 4 - or alternatively you could try interpolating a gibbon-like "Oo" after line 2 and an "Oi!" after line 4.

Hopefully not transcribed from recent experience... Caren says she'll never be able to sing that hymn again now.

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Hopefully not transcribed from recent experience... Caren says she'll never be able to sing that hymn again now.

No, I am very pleased to say - and don't you dare suggest it to him either! :lol:

 

The worst thing is that, now I've posted this, I just know that someone, somewhere will actually do it.

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This time I'm not tongue in cheek!

 

MM asks if we should not make hymns relevant to 21st century youth (sorry, I can't find the original entry to quote it properly). I suppose the answer has to be yes, but it raises in my mind two further questions.

 

The first is - how? I can hardly believe anyone seriously wants to perpetuate some of the drivel quoted in earlier posts - indeed I find it difficult to believe that anyone included them in any published work at all. Yet the words of the songs youngsters listen to today, and for some time past, aren't exactly Milton or Shakespeare. So do we encourage those writing new worship material for teenagers match the poverty of expression in the 'hit parade', or aim rather higher and risk simply writing a new set of songs which are still out of touch with 'modern youth'? Bear also in mind that any use of modern teenage slang is likely to be out of date within the time it takes to publish the song anyway, and may be irrelevant in all but a few places as well.

 

The second is, should we not rather make our concern the need to make the whole Christian gospel relevant to modern youngsters? This also prompts the question, 'how'? Simply preaching to them doesn't work - it didn't to my generation, and I can't see, frankly, why it should. Someone said that the Gospel isn't taught, it's caught. I suspect that has a large grain of truth in it, in which case, how do those whose privilege it is to lead worship, preach and teach become infectious? I realise this question is maybe outside the scope of a web site dedicated to the music of the Organ, but all of us involved in church life need to be aware of the issue.

 

Or are we simply asking the wrong question? Is the point not that we should try to make hymnody in whatever form relevant to modern youngsters, but to help them see that it, together with the Gospel of which it is an expression, is relevant to their lives? That, I feel, is the real challenge.

 

Regards to all

 

John

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This time I'm not tongue in cheek!

 

MM asks if we should not make hymns relevant to 21st century youth (sorry, I can't find the original entry to quote it properly). I suppose the answer has to be yes, but it raises in my mind two further questions.

The first is - how? (1)

 

The second is, should we not rather make our concern the need to make the whole Christian gospel relevant to modern youngsters? This also prompts the question, 'how'? (2)

 

Regards to all

 

John

 

(1) Rap! I'm sure it would be possible to make use of more complex language than that in the trite happy-clappy rubbish we have already heard about, so long as it has rhythm.

 

(2) Make it into a computer game.

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I can hardly believe anyone seriously wants to perpetuate some of the drivel quoted in earlier posts - indeed I find it difficult to believe that anyone included them in any published work at all. Yet the words of the songs youngsters listen to today, and for some time past, aren't exactly Milton or Shakespeare.

Not Milton or Shakespeare, perhaps, but I wouldn't be too quick to be dismissive. Another forum I visit used to have an English teacher who used certain pop songs in teaching the appreciation of poetry. He was always quoting lyrics where the standard was really quite high and he seemed to have quite a store of them. I'm afraid I can't remember any specific examples, though.

 

Or are we simply asking the wrong question? Is the point not that we should try to make hymnody in whatever form relevant to modern youngsters, but to help them see that it, together with the Gospel of which it is an expression, is relevant to their lives? That, I feel, is the real challenge.

On the question of relevance, I think the much-missed Patrick Coleman hit the nail on the head here:

http://www.mander-organs.com/discussion/in...amp;#entry54656

It's not really my province, but I'm not entirely sure you can "teach" the relevance of the gospel as such. You can perhaps, by teaching and example, inculcate attitudes and understanding that help people to come to their own realisation of the relevance of the gospel. In my own church - and this might even be commonplace these days - the emphasis is now on trying to encourage a life-changing, active Christianity rather than the passive worship encouraged (unintentionally perhaps) by the Book of Common Prayer and traditional hymnody. This, I am sure, is the main reason why we get the awful "songs" we do. This is unfortunate because, as I mentioned in post 35 above, there are some poets who can write good, modern hymns with a contemporary voice.

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This time I'm not tongue in cheek!

 

MM asks if we should not make hymns relevant to 21st century youth (sorry, I can't find the original entry to quote it properly). I suppose the answer has to be yes, but it raises in my mind two further questions.

 

The first is - how? I can hardly believe anyone seriously wants to perpetuate some of the drivel quoted in earlier posts - indeed I find it difficult to believe that anyone included them in any published work at all. Yet the words of the songs youngsters listen to today, and for some time past, aren't exactly Milton or Shakespeare. So do we encourage those writing new worship material for teenagers match the poverty of expression in the 'hit parade', or aim rather higher and risk simply writing a new set of songs which are still out of touch with 'modern youth'? Bear also in mind that any use of modern teenage slang is likely to be out of date within the time it takes to publish the song anyway, and may be irrelevant in all but a few places as well.

 

The second is, should we not rather make our concern the need to make the whole Christian gospel relevant to modern youngsters? This also prompts the question, 'how'? Simply preaching to them doesn't work - it didn't to my generation, and I can't see, frankly, why it should. Someone said that the Gospel isn't taught, it's caught. I suspect that has a large grain of truth in it, in which case, how do those whose privilege it is to lead worship, preach and teach become infectious? I realise this question is maybe outside the scope of a web site dedicated to the music of the Organ, but all of us involved in church life need to be aware of the issue.

 

Or are we simply asking the wrong question? Is the point not that we should try to make hymnody in whatever form relevant to modern youngsters, but to help them see that it, together with the Gospel of which it is an expression, is relevant to their lives? That, I feel, is the real challenge.

 

Regards to all

 

John

 

 

The great problem raised by what we are discussing here is that if we bring the Gospel, and the music we use to express its meaning, into a state where it is 'relevant and acceptable to modern youth' we are in danger of denuding it of reverence. The simple truth is that the whole mindset and attitudes of modern society is at odds with God's plan for mankind- it cannot be made relevant. Instead, we must hope that those who shun faith may eventually accept their need of it. Church music was traditionally of a classical nature because it was once the only form available. With the advent of 'popular music' many have sought to release the church from these bonds- however I have personally seen no need for this at all, and there is enough good music around without watering it all down to the abysmal levels we see so often today!

 

It is not that far back in time that young people would happily sing traditional hymns. But the human nature to constantly seek something new has been apparently satisfied by these new styles, and we face the perils of a generation to whom such wonders will become alien!

 

CP

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Some good points raised.

 

Surely we need to draw a distinction between words which are of a time and a passing fad, and those which are timeless. The choruses I was singing as a child probably aren't much in use nowadays (think 'If I were a butterfly', for example) and have been replaced. Today's will get replaced as well. When we look through our hymnbooks and find such hymns as quoted above, we can probably be rest assured that 90% of them won't be in the next round of hymnbooks in 10-15 years' time. Something else will have replaced them, no doubt.

 

But look at Wesley's hymns, for example, and although he wrote thousands of them, we still have lots of them in popular use. Why? They make wonderful use of Biblical references and are totally founded on scriptures, and express things in language which isn't archaic (occasionally modified, perhaps) and so are still relevant today. Is there anything more profound than

'Changed from glory into glory,

till in heaven we take our place,

till we cast our crowns before thee,

lost in wonder, love, and praise.'

 

Or from one of our other great hymn-writers, Issac Watts

'Were the whole realm of nature mine,

that were an offering far too small;

love so amazing, so divine,

demands my soul, my life, my all.'

 

There are some pretty dreary old hymns which haven't stood the test of time. That is the way of the world - but if verses like those have survived 200-300 years I see no reason why they can't survive the same again. That will be the real test of the longevity of hymns - whether they are still being sung in 30, 50, 100 years time. None of us can know that now.

 

The church needs to realise that Christianity is always relevant - and it is only humans who can make it otherwise. Again, it has survived for so long which must mean something. I always think that an individual church should try to do a particular style of worship well. If its worshippers demand different styles, then they realistically need separate services to fulfil these functions. If a service tries to be 'all things to all men' then it is almost inevitably going to leave everyone dissatisfied in some way. I am quite happy now to leave praise bands etc to the people who do this well while we concentrate on doing mostly traditional hymns with a sprinkling of modern ones (even many of these I could lose though - see above). Attendances at our moderately Anglo-Catholic church are consistently good and the range of ages is wide - with an increasing number of families and young children (in no small part thanks to a 'Mother and Toddler' group which has started recently). I've not yet heard any of them calling for praise bands or the like - and they seem to think we're relevant enough. The reality is that there are plenty of places locally to us where you can find the praise bands and low church stuff, so why try to follow? The church is a diverse beast and we shouldn't all try to be the same.

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Some good points raised.

 

Surely we need to draw a distinction between words which are of a time and a passing fad, and those which are timeless. The choruses I was singing as a child probably aren't much in use nowadays (think 'If I were a butterfly', for example) and have been replaced. Today's will get replaced as well. When we look through our hymnbooks and find such hymns as quoted above, we can probably be rest assured that 90% of them won't be in the next round of hymnbooks in 10-15 years' time. Something else will have replaced them, no doubt.

 

But look at Wesley's hymns, for example, and although he wrote thousands of them, we still have lots of them in popular use. Why? They make wonderful use of Biblical references and are totally founded on scriptures, and express things in language which isn't archaic (occasionally modified, perhaps) and so are still relevant today. Is there anything more profound than

'Changed from glory into glory,

till in heaven we take our place,

till we cast our crowns before thee,

lost in wonder, love, and praise.'

 

Or from one of our other great hymn-writers, Issac Watts

'Were the whole realm of nature mine,

that were an offering far too small;

love so amazing, so divine,

demands my soul, my life, my all.'

 

There are some pretty dreary old hymns which haven't stood the test of time. That is the way of the world - but if verses like those have survived 200-300 years I see no reason why they can't survive the same again. That will be the real test of the longevity of hymns - whether they are still being sung in 30, 50, 100 years time. None of us can know that now.

 

The church needs to realise that Christianity is always relevant - and it is only humans who can make it otherwise. Again, it has survived for so long which must mean something. I always think that an individual church should try to do a particular style of worship well. If its worshippers demand different styles, then they realistically need separate services to fulfil these functions. If a service tries to be 'all things to all men' then it is almost inevitably going to leave everyone dissatisfied in some way. I am quite happy now to leave praise bands etc to the people who do this well while we concentrate on doing mostly traditional hymns with a sprinkling of modern ones (even many of these I could lose though - see above). Attendances at our moderately Anglo-Catholic church are consistently good and the range of ages is wide - with an increasing number of families and young children (in no small part thanks to a 'Mother and Toddler' group which has started recently). I've not yet heard any of them calling for praise bands or the like - and they seem to think we're relevant enough. The reality is that there are plenty of places locally to us where you can find the praise bands and low church stuff, so why try to follow? The church is a diverse beast and we shouldn't all try to be the same.

 

Hi

 

Well said - although there are places where "blended" worship works, and works well. But I thoroughly agree about the need for diversity - and the need to do whatever style of worship is used as well as possible.

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

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