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Sunday, June 15, 2008

Your Aardvark feels...uncomfortable. He is struggling to fight the predations of peer-pressure. There is a rough crowd hard at work, and the Dread Dormomoo is in with them. Never thought I'd see the day. She and her buddies are out at all hours (She rolled in at 3 AM Sat.morning) doing I-don't-know-what-all. Actually, I DO know exactly what is going on.


The Diana singing is a local institution, drawing around 3000 lovers of a capella gospel singing from all over. A bunch of folks from our congregation get together and drive caravan-style the thirty some-odd miles to the event. Your Aardvark is not with them. He is not fond of crowds, and is also not fond of hymn sings. Actually, he is a hymn elitist. Congregational worship is dear to heart, and we are instructed to sing and make melody in our hearts to the Lord, teaching one another thereby. What knots this Aardvark's tongue is what he terms "cracker hymns": the songs that are naught but sentimental and escapist tripe, about:"over there", "won't it be wonderful", "this world is not my home, I'm just a-passin' through", like that. Psalms, hymns and spiritual songs are meant to instruct us, as well as to express praise to God. Wallowing in treacle does neither. Many of the songs grow out of Depression-era and Wartime, times that cried for escape. Revivalism also wrought terrible things, with songs of limited and simplistic theology.

The Aardvark once wrote a paper on "The transition from psalmody to hymnody in the American Free-church tradition. Yes, like NASA, he can make wonderful and important things boring. The singing of psalms and other scripture set to tunes was the standard of the church. Into the 1700s hymns, poetic expressions of praise and doctrine became The Rage. One of the most sublime hymn writers was Isaac Watts. Here is one of his treasures from 1707:

Alas! and did my Savior bleed
And did my Sovereign die?
Would He devote that sacred head
For such a worm as I?

Thy body slain, sweet Jesus, Thine—
And bathed in its own blood—
While the firm mark of wrath divine,
His Soul in anguish stood.

Was it for crimes that I had done
He groaned upon the tree?
Amazing pity! grace unknown!
And love beyond degree!

Well might the sun in darkness hide
And shut his glories in,
When Christ, the mighty Maker died,
For man the creature’s sin.

Thus might I hide my blushing face
While His dear cross appears,
Dissolve my heart in thankfulness,
And melt my eyes to tears.

But drops of grief can ne’er repay
The debt of love I owe:
Here, Lord, I give my self away
’Tis all that I can do.

Amazing work. Then a Ralph Hudson in 1850 was deeply moved in a revival when the song was sung, and was apparently also moved to write a badly-needed chorus for the hymn

At the cross, at the cross where I first saw the light,
And the burden of my heart rolled away,
It was there by faith I received my sight,
And now I am happy all the day!

The style meshes so perfectly.

Perhaps hynmnodic licensure is the answer.

Point: good quality rules. Hack-work drools. The classic "grand old hymns" speak. The "galloping gospel" types babble and whinge.

Aardvark got his reasons...so why does he feel like the guy who beats his wife when he gets drunk...just 'cos he doesn't like to go to hymn-sings?

IMPORTANT NOTE: The DD understands, and in no-way trips him into feeling thus.

"I'll fly away, O glory...."


MacLaren said...

What's wrong with beating your wife when you get drunk? It's natural... not something to be ashamed of. Unlike crummy hymn lyrics.

Gamegod said...

Awww, It was so inspiring to me to sing that old hymn that concludes with that uplifting phrase,

"...and then we die."

I just get shivers of inspiration.

Now if you'll pardon me, got to go cut my nose.

MacLaren said...

"Whack a mole, whack a mole, whack a big one tonight
And hope his burrow in the ground goes away!
They have poor sight
So Lady Luck should treat you right
And help you whack a mole today!"

The Aardvark said...

vidad, I much prefer the uplifting "Weasel-Stomping Day".

Galt-in-Da-Box said...

I don't care...I'm still partial to A Mighty Fortress Is Our God, O Word Of God Incarnate and Amazing Grace.
If God's Household, the Body of Christ was a country, O Word of God Incarnate would be its national anthem.

The Aardvark said...

Ted, all of those are EXCELLENT hymns, doing exactly what hymns should do!