Hated Hymns... the Countdown


Following on from my blog yesterday, I should also have said that there is a whole category of Christmas Carols that cause me to twitch uncontrollably... But I will return to them in due course:

But now praise-pickers here's my top ten hated hymns and praise songs (amazed that I kept it to 10):

10) One More Step along the World I Go: One more time I have to sing this song... I just don't like it because it has been sung to death.
9) Come ye thankful people come: Actually a superb harvest hymn, that actually does justice to the Biblical use of the harvest metaphor in the context of divine judgement... just have problems with us joyfully singing of the angels being given charge (at last) "in the fire the tares (i.e. sinful fellow human beings) to cast..."

8) I am the bread of life: Writers who can't be bothered getting their work to scan should not be encouraged!

7) Wind, Wind Blow on Me!: A mindless, trite little chorus with a jaunty tune that doesn't really go with the idea of the coming of the Holy Spirit.

6) God sent his Son (Because he lives...): Its the cloying sentimentality that gets me...

5) And Did these Feet in ancient Times (Jerusalem): No they didn't! Once had this at a wedding in Northern Ireland... I could barely contain myself...

4) Onward Christian Soldiers/Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus: I count these as one hymn because they are indestinguishable in my mind, betraying a militaristic Christianity that sat uneasily with the British Empire, and portrays a picture of victorious Christian living that is alien to many people... I hate them even more because they are so great to sing!

3) Jesus, We Celebrate your Victory: The tune is great... but the line "and in his presence our problems disappear" is patent nonsense. They may sometimes fade into the background for a short time, and one day WILL disappear completely, but not yet...

2) Moses I know you're the man: Not only does the first line sound like some tacky "Boyz in the Hood" parody, but the chorus is nonense... We are encouraged to sing joyfully about being a "travelling, wandering race..." Travelling - Good! I spend my life trying to encourage my fellow Christians to travel with God... But wandering... I don't want to celebrate the fact that we are a wandering people, that God has to keep seeking out...

1) Gentle Jesus Meek and Mild: Lets not leave Charles Wesley out of this... The greatest hymnwriter in history gets top spot in this list as well as many others that are slightly more complimentary. This particular gem by Chuck paints a picture in this one line of a fey, ineffectual fop, who bears no similarity to the Jesus I read of in the new Testament. Meek yes... Mild... Never! Thankfully in our hymnbook "Hymns and Psalms" the offending verse is omitted an it is billed under the first line "Loving Jesus, Gentle Lamb."

I've omitted many of the contemporary pieces that set my teeth on edge, largely because time will probably sort most of them out... I've only listed those that I fear we are stuck with.

Actually I sometimes pick some of the hymns on this list, even though they drive me to distraction, not because of some sort of musical masochism but because I appreciate that other people have radically different tastes to me (not everyone is perfect). However, where I have theological quibbles I will generally air them and change the offending lyrics if possible.

So, I am sorry if I have offended some people with any of the hymns on my list today, or my sweeping generalisations yesterday, but that is the joy of human variation. Just hope that none of the above are in heaven's hymnbook, or eternity could seem even longer!!

Any hymns you would add to the list?


Comments

Mr. Moo said…
Re: Number 3 - Stocki changed that line to 'in his presence the darkness disappears', which made it a little more palatable (?sp).

I'm with you on Jerusalem!

We've tinkered with a number of songs to improve their inclusivity, what do you think of that? For instance, 'Thou my true Father, thy child let me be; Thou in me dwelling, and I one with Thee' in Be Thou My Vision...
whynotsmile said…
Oh, I could take your list and make it 12 times as long... Agree with all of the above, although I'm quite fond of 'Come Ye Thankful People Come', but I can see your problem with that line. Also the categories mentioned in the previous post (particularly the 'Jesus is my boyfriend' ones; although I don't mind the gore-fest so much, but maybe that's my Brethren upbringing coming through).

Here's my tuppence worth:

'Servant King' - overdone, overrated, and a naff tune.

'Majesty' - likewise.

'For The Joys And For The Sorrows' - but mainly, if we can judge by the tune, for the sorrows.

That one that goes 'And now I am happy all the day (clap clap clap)' - I can't remember what it is, and have a feeling I quite like some of it, but really...

'There Is a Green Hill Far Away', and anything else we used to sing in Primary School.

Sometimes I do the computer in church (the one that puts the words of the songs up), and there is a most bizarre selection of music in our database. I can only assume they came with the software ('America The Beautiful', 'Battle Hymn of the Republic' etc.)

In response to Mr Moo, I hate the inclusivity versions most of the time. If it fits to change 'son' to 'child' without changing meaning or scanning, then I can live with it. But there is a significance to the word 'son' which should not be overlooked.

And as to changing 'How Great Thou Art' to 'How Great You Are' etc. - please let me curl up on the floor and die, please.
whynotsmile said…
Addendum: 'Now I am happy all the day' is from 'At the cross'. The verses are pretty decent and the tune is great, but it's just.. the chorus... the terrible chorus...
Jonny said…
The 70s blessed us with a number of lyrically suggestive songs such as:

"Jesus take me as I am, I can come no other way. Take me deeper into you, let me flesh life melt away."
stu said…
This is great! Particularly interesting as the virtual meth presumably has to make hymn/chorus choices on a fairly regular basis! Totally agree on 'One more step' - this sends a slight shiver down my spine and brings back unhappy memories of standing unhappily in church on a sunday night!! I really hated this song!

And as for Jonny's x-rated 70s praise...well what can you say!?
gadgetguy said…
To be honest, I don't recognize most of your list, but I might if I heard them. I've never been good with titles. I can't stand that modern one that starts with "My God is an Awesome God". To me this comes across as boasting rather than praise, because every time I hear that line my sick mind follows it up with "and yours sucks", and I hate putting God in a "my Dad can beat up your Dad" category.
methinks I have tapped into a previously undiscovered reservoir of ire on this subject... Keep them coming...
As for the comments so far... Mr. Moo's tinkering with No3 is exactly how we deal with it in my current charge...
Sorry WhyNotSmile doesn't like Servant King... The tune is much better when the harmony's are sung in the chorus as they usually aren't... And it at least encourages Christians to get off their asses and do something... not just sing about it... (and I think we're singing it this week at our place, so I would stay clear if I were you.) But certainly agree with comments re inclusivity... Some truly clumsy attempts and child is not always the same as son...
Jonny... your eye and ear for the gruesome disturbs me...
And Gadgetguy... as I re-discovered in the summer, we are not just two ntions divided by a single language... but also with 2 almost completely distinct hymn traditions... This is being eroded in the current global praise market, which means that we too can cringe at rubbish like "my God is an awesome God"
Jonny said…
Can I just qualify my last contribution by saying that I mentioned it as an example of "Jesus is my boyfriend" songs starting a bit earlier - there is more like this but for the sake of younger bloggers I won't dig any further!

Thought I'd mention a possible elephant in the room for many:
"How great is our God"
- one of many examples of TMT inflicting our churches (too much Tomlin!)

Also has anyone ever seen someone break into dance while singing the "oh I feel like dancing.." line in I could sing of your love forever?
GWJ said…
Ironically, several of these dire hymns are great fun to play - you stick down the bottom five pedals all together to make sure that "hell's foundations quiver".

Legend has it that Plumptre's words for "Thy hand, o God, has guided" had even more interesting additions in the first draft. Thankfully the editors of Ancient & Modern decided to spare us:

"God bless our merry England,
God bless our Church and Queen,
God bless our great Archbishop,
The best there’s ever been."

On suggestive hymns, try 450 in Songs and Hymns of Fellowship: "Lord, you put a tongue in my mouth". Or this, which may give the hearer a misleading impression of the virgins' response:

"There David stands with harp in hand
as master of the choir:
ten thousand times that man were blessed
that might this music hear.

Our Lady sings Magnificat
with tune surpassing sweet,
and all the virgins bear their parts,
sitting about her feet."
Please please please can I add 'O God of burning cleansing flame' to your list? Not wishing to cause any offence to any Salvation Army folk out there but i struggle with this song.... 'Let the revolution now begin, send the fire today...' Need I say anymore?
oh and number 6 on your list - i remember very distinctly as a child being at an open air service in Ward Park in Bangor one Sunday afternoon. Around the same time two British men had been charged with drug smuggling in an Asian country and were due to face the death penalty the next day. The man announcing this particular number made some connection between the two men facing death and being certain of your future. It's what I think of everytime I sing the song...

Oh and another one is Bind us Together... partly because at some service thing in Bangor Leisure Centre in the mid 1980s the boy sitting beside me threw up quite violently during this song. I still a wave of nausea when i see the words come up on the big screen today.

I'll stop now.

Popular posts from this blog

A Woman of no Distinction

An Epistle To Our Elected Leaders

Advent Candle Liturgy 5: Christmas