Thursday, August 12, 2004

A Hymn for every Occasion

Yesterday in class we looked at the hymns of Charles Wesley (I am doing a class on the History of Evangelical Christianity this semester). It was a fasinating series of lectures - John Wesley, then George Whitfield and then the hymns of Charles Wesley. But this last hour particularly struck me.

He wrote hymns for every kind of occasion - for when you thought you might be getting small pox, for when you had it, and for when you were recovering from it, for those in child birth ... and the one that seemed strangely appropriate yesterday which was one of the ones that the person giving the lecture (a person doing her PhD in Charles Wesleys hymns) gave us to look at was a hymn to sing on viewing a corpse. The words, I thought, were quite appropriate for such an occasion and it was interesting to think about how they had some way of expressing those thoughts in words that were given to them - especially at a time when words are quite hard to find but there is (in my experience)a longing to express something of what you are experiencing.
Interesting ... no I am not going to become a mad hymn singer out of this (certainly none of you who have sung around me would consider that an option anyway! ... or those of you who know what I think about the way singing can isolated people who are unfamiliar with church norms) ... but it is interesting all the same

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