Hymn to God the Whatever


John Hinderaker of Power Line links to a blog about Lutheran liturgy and hymnody. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), the largest and most liberal of the Lutheran denominations, has a proposed new hymnal and service book called Renewing Worship, and the authors of www.worshiphymn.org are documenting the "improvements" contained in the new hymnal, such as the unnecessary rewriting of Joachim Neander's "Praise to the Lord, the Almighty."

But the highlight is the most recent entry, a parody by Gracia Grindal of the worst in modern mainline liberal hymns, "Hymn to God the Whatever." Here's the stirring second stanza:

You are like a weaving grandma,
Or a father making rugs,
Like a farmer on her tractor
Trying not to kill her bugs.
We create you when we name you
You appear at our command.
Aren't you glad that we still want you
Here to take us by the hand?

I can just imagine Garrison Keillor singing the final verse with gusto:

We will work for peace and justice,
We are not Republicans.
We believe in Marx and Engels
Not the brotherhood of man.
It is foolish to do mercy
Without handling the root cause.
We will work to feed the hungry
By the passing of new laws

The rest of the blog has thoughts on liturgy and worship and the Church Year that would be thought-provoking for a Christian of any denomination. I was interested to learn that Martin Luther published two worship services only with the greatest reluctance, concerned that congregations would regard it as binding:

He concluded his preface to the German Mass: "In short, this or any other order shall be so used that whenever it becomes an abuse, it shall be straightway abolished and replaced by another, even as King Hezekiah put away and destroyed the brazen serpent, though God himself had commanded it be made, because the children of Israel made an abuse of it (II Kings 18:4). Lutheran worship should be free."

Then there's this profound observation about liturgy:

Liturgy is meant to be transparent, like the glass in your household windows. You don't look AT the glass, but THRU it to the outside world. Because the PURPOSE of glass is to let the outside world IN: not to call attention to itself.

Likewise the purpose of liturgy is to present you to His Majesty, the King, so that you may see Him, hear Him, know Him: give Him thanks and praise. If the worship service does not do this to some degree, it is not helpful, or worshipful, but simply becomes something "we do in church" to please God. Even ancient liturgies (loved by liturgists) can become a museum of ancient artifacts no longer efficacious in worship today.

Prayers and best wishes go to these Lutherans who are working for worship that honors God.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on April 1, 2005 12:34 AM.

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