Tuesday, August 17, 2010

America is such a beautiful land but people only sing in churches.



But it wasn't the weather alone or the view which buoyed him.  Alternating between the hymnal and Bible in his pocket, he read the New Testament and sang the hymns of  "my beloved Paul Gerhardt."  "Many times the grace of my Savior so struck me with joy ... that I simply had to sing aloud"...  Wyneken found it inconceivable that America was such a beautiful land, yet people only sang in churches.  "He who is no longer deeply sensible of the joy in Luther's Christmas hymns, of the jubilation in our Easter hymns, of Paul Gerhardt's 'God for us' and 'Christ for me,' should examine himself to see whether his theology is not more closely related to the Koran than to the gospel"  [Werner Elert]

A little book on Joy.  Matt Harrison. p. 112-113

Thus we hear about one of the early presidents of the Missouri Synod from the newly elected  (heartfelt congratulations and prayers).

I have been struck by the same thought.  Wyneken and any church Germans would have known so many wonderful hymns by heart, that the soul can strike them up any time.  Here people don't even own a hymnbook, never mind take it anywhere, or even sing on the spot.  It is a cultural blemish of big consequences and a huge loss.

Personally, after all this time, I can still not really accustom myself to English translations.  But there are also wonderful hymns originally written in English.

The songs that get sung are the one on Shine FM, during car rides, which are also sung in "contemporary" services in what some call pop-evangelicalism, or something like that.  Personally to me, a song is a song, if it has substance.  I don't even care if it has a beat, never mind Clement.  I don't even mind drums and garage bands.  But it must be theologically correct and biblical, and excellent, if we are going to sing it over and over and teach it to our young folk.  This stuff stays with them.  So there does need to be something like an approved collection of songs.  I have also agitated for a kind of Lutheran hymn syllabus.  Which songs should children learn in each year of their life.

Let's have a set of books and recordings that can be used in home and church, specifically to inculcate these hymns, since most children don't go to Lutheran school, and we are not even sure what gets sung there.  Then when we are adults we have a set of hymns we can all sing together, anywhere.  A kind of Lutheran minimum.  Something beyond Christmas carols.  Those are the only hymns everyone can sing and that are sung somewhere other than in churches, it seems to me.
Lately, I've been singing with someone over the telephone.  Nutty--eh?  We take turns choosing hymns and sing them for each other or together.  The last one was "I am Jesus little lamb", I think.  The next one I want is "Jesus priceless treasure".  This made me think of singing some for my husband.  He chose:  "Be still my soul."  So we are working on singing some places other than in church and doing that with hymns from the hymnbook. It seems so outrageously counter-cultural.  What rebels we are.