Friday, 25 June 2010

What does singing do to us?

When we sing we embody (in-body) the theology that we have read. We take it in, translate, interpret and transmit. In the process are we, perhaps, formed or changed by the medium? Not pushing the metaphor too far, is it in any way like eating - what we eat becomes part of us, we excrete some of it, and it can nourish or poison…

So what we sing, and even how we sing, becomes important in a way we may not have envisaged before. It is one thing to read a text which remains remote, like looking at a cake and not eating it; it is something altogether different to take the text in and to re-transmit it. That we might do by reading aloud. The sheer physicality of singing, the presence of music, steps everything up a gear. Wesley knew that. That is why hymns were so important. The hymns provided portmanteau scriptures or interpretations, theology or doctrine. These were memorised and could be shared with others. And you can never lose them - which can become a bit of an irritation!

Why do you like this hymn or that? Why do you find some hymns abhorrent? 'A good sing' says as much, if not more, about feeling as it does about understanding or literary or musical quality. But Britta Martini wants to push us further by asking what is there in the expression of the music or the structure of a text, key or melody, image or metaphor, that causes a hymn to affect us in this way?

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

A Hymn Of Exploration

We take the path that leads beyond this moment,
while seeking all the hope faith has to give;
we walk so near the edge of understanding,
while grasping what we need to know to live.

This is no abstract whim that we are tracing,
this story of God’s free, creative grace;
this is no empty, useless recitation,
but God’s own love that nothing can erase.

The vision that you give, each new disclosure,
will bring us closer to our common goal,
the point where you assure us of salvation,
for us and every other living soul.

© Andrew Pratt 23/6/2010

HYMNS POSTED ON THIS BLOG MAY BE USED FREELY LOCALLY WITH ACKNOWLEDGEMENT. TO PUBLISH FOR PROFIT PLEASE CONTACT THE AUTHOR. For more hymns go to Hymns page For Books by Andrew Pratt follow LINKS on the Links page. Books are available on the following sites: Amazon, Stainer & Bell Ltd, Twelvebaskets, SCM-Canterbury Press Latest book due Summer 2010 SCM Studyguide Practical Skills for Ministry - follow this link - http://www.scm-canterburypress.co.uk/bookdetails.asp?ISBN=9780334043591 Andrew Pratt lectures at Luther King House, The Partnership for Theological Education, Manchester as a Methodist Tutor at Hartley Victoria College