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Holy Horrors

David Rogers

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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 Bear also in mind that any use of modern teenage slang is likely to be out of date within the time it takes to publish the song anyway, and may be irrelevant in all but a few places as well.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








Just to set the record straight. it wasn't my question. I was quoting a question asked of organists at a seminar.



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I sympathize with your distress. This reminds me of a Blackadder sketch from long ago. Lest it find its way over here, I wonder if you can give us an idea of the tune so that we can wave garlic at it?

Which one?


And yet another one just to show that the art of hymnody is not yet dead in New Zealand. From the same hymnbook


"Take a grape and an apple, take a pomegranate too,

Take a fig, and a melon, take an apricot or two,

take a date, and an olive, throw some nuts into a bowl,

and you'll have a fruit salad that is good for the soul.

It's the bounty of nature and lovely to see:

They are food for the body, the fruits of the tree

By planting and growing and tending with care

We may harvest the crop and enjoy it there.


Take some barley and wheat, take a cucumber too,

take an onion, some beans, and a lentil or two,

take some millet and leeks, add some salt (not a lot),

pour in water, make soup for your soul in a pot.

It's the bounty of earth and the sun and the rain,

and there's food for the soul in the growth of the grain.


Take some love and some patience, some faithfulness too,

take some joy and some kindness, take a good deed or two,

take some gentle behaviour, add some peace and self-control,

and you'll have a fruit salad that is good for the soul.

They're the fruit of the Spirit and lovely to see,

all the fruits of the life of the Spirit in me."


This is sung to the tune Yamsong - which one of the sopranos says is stolen from a Wiggles songs she plays to her pre-schoolers.


Meanwhile I am considering joining the Society of Friends!

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Meanwhile I am considering joining the Society of Friends!

You will be very welcome, but be aware of the limitations:-


"In calm and cool and silence, once again

I find my old accustomed place among

My brethren, where, perchance, no human tongue

Shall utter words; where never hymn is sung,

Nor deep-toned organ blown, nor censer swung"


No hymns with diabolical words and tunes, but no organ either. The words quoted above, paradoxically, come from a long poem by John Greenleaf Whittier, from which "Dear Lord and Father of mankind" was extracted, and is sung frequently in most denominations except JGW's own - the Society of Friends.

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