Hymns we like or dislike
Monday 30th July 2018
This is a brief summary of the meeting on 1 July 2018, led by Nigel Jones.
The Iona song writer, John Bell spoke at a meeting recently in Tunstall Methodist Church. He said that what people sing has a profound effect on their attitudes in life and therefore the choice of songs in Christian groups is important for the context in which we live.
Thus, the 18th Century song 'Rule Britannia' represents too close a connection between Christianity and nationalism. Christ challenges tribalism and nationalism. Likewise, some hymns emphasise that nothing changes with God, that God belongs to us and that God is male in character. So we compared some traditional hymns with a few new ones; also note the hymn 'In Christ there is no East or West', which is in contrast to tribal and nationalistic attitudes.
Nigel expressed a dislike for the hymn 'Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine' due to its extreme self-centredness and distorted theology in the phrase "Jesus is mine". Then the hymn 'In Christ alone' has that abhorrent few lines that say 'till on that cross as Jesus died, the wrath of God was satisfied'. The objection is not the concept of the wrath of God but the theology implied regarding the cross. Only one person tried to defend it.
We agreed that music plays a huge part and most people will sing any words if the tune is good.
Others put forward hymns for comment. We liked the hymn that begins 'We limit not the truth of God to our poor reach of mind' with refrain "The Lord has yet more light and truth to break forth from his word".
Another less known hymn was shown to us, written by Nick Fawcett and published in 2004 by Kevin Mayhew; a very honest hymn. It begins
"Lord, there are times when I have to ask 'Why?' "; next verse asks 'Where?', third verse 'What?' and in the fourth verse "Lord there are times when I have to ask 'How?' times when what's preached doesn't square with life now." The last verse says
"Lord, there are times when the questions run fast, times when I fear that my faith may not last. Help me, support me, Lord, help me get through. Lead me through darkness till light shines anew."
Lastly there is a hymn I have not found in a hymn book but I was introduced to it a few years ago by a minister; people immediately felt it worthy and meaningful, so here it is in full.
CHRIST HAS CALLED US TO EACH OTHER
Christ has called us to each other
Linked in one humanity
Colour, culture, class or gender
Break the chains to set us free.
Hold the hand of friend and stranger
Hold the dreams of age and youth
Hold the cynic and the searcher
As we journey to the truth.
Christ has challenged every motive
And disturbed all stale belief
Re-imagining the future
Scatt'ring vision, healing grief.
Open doors will welcome homeless
Open eyes will see the need
Open hands will work in friendship
Sharing love instead of greed.
Christ will use all that we offer
Build the Kingdom in this space
Living stones of strength and weakness
Each unique and in its place.
Art and science, thought and action
Human struggle, near and far
Jesus Christ transforms the questions
In our search of whom we are.
Christ has called us to this moment
Time of change and new ideas,
Re-imagining the future
Bringing hope, despite our fears.
Open minds explore potential
Open arms embrace each child
Open hearts live out his purpose
All creation reconciled.
C.Beverley Hughes CCL 57681
Metre: 87 87 87 87
Tunes: Bethany, Hyfrydol or Ode to Joy.