In Lay Terms

Random Ramblings From a Church Nerd

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Let It Go

Last night, a friend and I were talking about the new Lutheran Hymnal. She was in a setting where a colleague was complaining about the new hymnal. Neither one of us can figure out what the big deal is. Are we perhaps getting our undies in a twist over something that isn't that big of a deal?

I've only had one glance-through, but isn't that enough to make me an expert?

Here are my observations about the complaints about the hymnal:

1. There is no ELCA Army that will forcibly take away your green, blue, red, or black hymnals and replace them with the maroon hymnal. If your congregation does not want to use the new hymnal, you don't have to use it! This is a resource, not a mandate.

2. There have been complaints that the new hymnal includes a lot of global hymns, including "from the southern hemisphere." Does that strike anyone else as more than a little racist? Why must all our hymns come from northern Europe? Because the Lutheran church started there? Unfortunately, those countries where the Lutheran Church began are some of the most secular places in the world. Why do we want to emulate them as models of vibrant faith? Plus, Martin Luther was a great contextualizer. He translated the Bible into the vernacular. He made hymns out of drinking songs. In that same spirit, we should be singing hymns that reflect the faith and experience of the people who are worshipping. We should NOT be forcing people to adapt a faith that is foreign to them. That's what brother Martin was against.

3. Inclusive language: We still sing, "The King of Love, My Shepherd Is". We don't sing, "This Is My Parent's World". Yes, they changed the Psalms to say "you" instead of "he". Get over it. It makes the Psalms prayers to God. Isn't prayer a good thing?

4. Let me stress this again, because it is important: NO ONE IS FORCING YOU TO DO ANYTHING! If you want to continue to use the green hymnal, you can. If you want to project praise and worship songs with thin theology onto a screen during worship, you can. However, I would like something that bridges the old favorite hymns with some new exciting hymns. I would like resources for more creative worship. Get off my back if I want to sing a new song! I won't stop you from worshipping however you like, so LET IT GO!

OK - my rant is over.

...for now.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with your basic arguement. The problem I have is that many (mine included) churches are adopting the new hymnal (LSB) without researching it first to see if it's best for their particular congregation. I was under the understanding that it would contain the best of the old and the new in one hymnal. However, they have mixed old and new together. Ex: new words to old tunes, New words in the old prayers. I say, have old prayers and new prayers, old hymns and new hymns. We sang the hymn "Let us ever walk with Jesus" today and no one knew the words. The entire hymn has been rewritten but the tune and title are the same. Parishoners have been singing these tunes for years and praying these prayers.... Now we are not focusing on the meaning or praising from the heart, rather we are trying to relearn the words. There is a cognitive dissonance created from this that leaves the worshiper really unsettled. It's like a woman who can't decide whether to where slacks or a dress to church. So, instead of wearing slacks one week and a dress the next, she decides to wear both at the same time..... I don't believe their "noble" mission has been accomplished with this new hymnal (LSB). Thanks. Dave.

2:01 PM  

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