Saturday, July 14, 2007

Hallelujah, Sing to America!



... hers the scepter, hers the throne?

There was an awkward moment in my mission assignment last week when we'd gotten 'round to the end of the afternoon. In the last 30 minutes of our time at the assisted living facility, we sang hymns with/to the residents. If you've ever stood alongside me in Christian worship, you understand that I may have missed my calling as a Baptist deacon: I'm not always on key, I have only one volume setting, and I know every single song in the Baptist Hymnal, especially the older editions. I was by default a lead voice because I know the songs and I'm not shy (it's really amazing to me how much congregational singing doesn't actually include congregational singing).

When at the end of the session our group decided to sing "America, the Beautiful," it was just a little awkward when my voice was so noticeably absent.

Submitted for your approval, a quick explanation of why it's inappropriate to sing to "America" in Christian worship.

In Christian worship, thanks and praise and supplication are offered to God the Father, through the Son, by the enabling power of the Holy Spirit. This is the trinitarian understanding of the relationship between God and God's people.

When in the course of the liturgy, the people of God cease to address the Father, and instead address prayers and praises to the nation-state, we have ceased to celebrate Christian liturgy. While we might pick up the Christian liturgy again after that song, this is an unacceptable foray into another religion. Instead of Trinitarian harmony we've offered pagan cacophony.

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.

Update: You've seen this, right?

11 comments:

Kathy said...

Hi!

I would like to invite you and your readers to stop by my hymn blog, www.hymnographyunbound.blogspot.com

Thank you!

Rob said...

Hey Kyle,

Hope you're well. Your recent post reminds me of times we've sung patriotic songs in my church, or even when we've sung happy birthday. not that we are celebrating what you'd consider the christian liturgy in my church, but would singing happy birthday to a church member during a worship service also be unpleasing to God?

Garrett said...

As long as you insert "God bless you" instead of "dear Kyle," God won't notice, right Kyle?

*hope the non-baptists get it*

RANDOM GUY =) said...

well..........upon meeting kyle and knowing him for only a few days i have to say......THAT WAS JUST STUPID....the intire thing........and i find it to be realy....post-modern

RANDOM GUY said...

actuly i beleiv kyle us right about missing his calling.....you see i just spent a intire week lisening to his LOAD....OFF KEY......but pretty impresive singing......any way may god be with you kyle......and i will continue to critisize your blog...for all iternity =)

beth said...

AMEN!!!!

Jared Cramer said...

I wonder if Beth is "amen-ing" RANDOM GUY or Kyle.

beth said...

just for clarity, this is what I am amening:

"When in the course of the liturgy, the people of God cease to address the Father, and instead address prayers and praises to the nation-state, we have ceased to celebrate Christian liturgy. While we might pick up the Christian liturgy again after that song, this is an unacceptable foray into another religion. Instead of Trinitarian harmony we've offered pagan cacophony."

Well said, Kyle.

Phil B. said...

I dunno Kyle.... I'd rather sing about America the Beautiful than sing "Hey to the Carpenter" or a Hymn to the Creator Goddess. But best of all... as you pointed out, are praise and thanksgiving to a Trinitarian God, Father, Son and Spirit.

Score one for Liturgical Quality control!

Kyle said...

Hi, Kathy, Beth, Jared and Alex. Thanks for reading.

Rob, I believe singing "Happy Birthday" in the context of Christian worship to be inappropriate for the same reasons as I have stated, but there is big difference in that it doesn't give praise and honor to the nation-state.

Garrett's right, the Baptists often cheat.

Thanks for visiting, Alex. :0)

Phil, that's like saying I'd rather be a Pelagian than an Arian. It might be true, but either way you're in some trouble!

RANDOM GUY said...

im glad my roots are luthiran and not babtist...other wise i might have to find garrett.....and "save" him ;)