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Wednesday, November 19, 2003

Desert island hymns!

Bless their hearts, the editors of Anglicans Online are soliciting readers' all-time favorite hymns. They invite you to nominate the single hymn you'd take with you to a desert island. Hmm. A hymn is awfully portable — you don't need an organ or piano if you can hum the tune, you don't need a hymnal to recall your favorite words, and I'd bet that those of us who attend church services regularly would be hard pressed to forget even some of the lesser hymns we carry around in our worshipful heads. So how could you take just one?

But let's play anyway. I'd like to solicit Unitarian Universalists' all-time favorite hymns. (And, since contrariness is next to Godliness, please feel free to nominate your least favorite UU hymn, too.) Nominations may come from any hymnal in use in a Unitarian Universalist church — Singing the Living Tradition, Hymns for the Celebration of Life, Hymns of the Spirit, etc. — but the hymn does not need to have been written by a UU.

My two favorites are probably Fred Pratt Green's "When in our music God is glorified" (#36 in SLT) and the old Quaker hymn "My life flows on in endless song" (#108). Worst hymn? I'll have to think about that one. Feel free to add your favorites and least favorites in the comments line. (Thanks to BITB and Mrs P for the near-simultaneous tip about Anglicans Online!)

Oh, and sorry about the scarcity of posts lately. Work is all-consuming this week. I've barely read a word about the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruling — more on that soon, I hope!

Copyright © 2003 by Philocrites | Posted 19 November 2003 at 10:12 PM

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Tom Schade:

November 20, 2003 07:50 AM | Permalink for this comment

favorite hymns: #1: O Come You Longing Thirsty Folk -- #209 in SLT -- music by Ralph Vaughan Williams, words from Isaiah.
#2 -- Though I May Speak with Bravest Fire -- traditional tune, words from Paul. #34 in SLT


November 20, 2003 09:50 AM | Permalink for this comment

If I were stranded and alone on a desert island, the hymns that would be with me are not in "Singing the Living Tradition." I'd be holding on to "It is Well With My Soul" and "Great is Thy Faithfulness" from my Texas fundamentalist days.

Theological complexities aside, these are the hymns that bring comfort, assurance, and hope and they always return to me during hard times. The best part for me is that they not only comfort, they challenge me to keep going and keep my faith. (in God? in Life? in humanity? in myself? Does it matter in the moment of crisis?)


November 20, 2003 11:09 AM | Permalink for this comment

Great question. Kind of makes you wonder what all those Unitarians by themselves, stranded on their own deserted islands are singing. Perhaps Simon & Garfunkel's "I am a rock"

My favorite hymn in SLT is #336 "All My Memories of Love" but if I were actually on the island, I'd probably sing #357 "Bright Morning Stars"


November 20, 2003 12:28 PM | Permalink for this comment

I love many different hymns. Depending on my mood and the context, different favorites come to mind. On a desert island, though, most of these just wouldn't make sense: hymns aren't hymns, sung alone. So on my island, I'd sing SLT #199, "Precious Lord, Take My Hand," with full improv engaged; with my congregation, SLT #347, "Gather the Spirit."

In the congregational context I also love SLT #114, "Forward Through the Ages"; #337, "Have I Not Known"; #298, "Wake Now My Senses"; #121, "We'll Build a Land"; #21, "For the Beauty of the Earth"; and #20, "Be Thou My Vision."


November 20, 2003 12:57 PM | Permalink for this comment

Isn't it amazing how many people know the hymn numbers in the middle of the week? Don't be intimidated, those of you who don't have your own copy of Singing the Living Tradition at home; remembering the first line is all you need to play!


November 20, 2003 04:50 PM | Permalink for this comment

Alas, I am still too young a UU to play this game.


November 20, 2003 06:47 PM | Permalink for this comment

Assuming that whatever hymnal Miami Valley used was a standard UU one, then I can vote for "Lift Every Voice and Sing," which I originally learned out of an African American hymnal at the non-UU church I used to go to. Most people play/sing it slower than I'd like, but I suppose that wouldn't be a problem on a desert island.


November 21, 2003 04:48 AM | Permalink for this comment

Hmm. The three I find myself singing in the car or on the bike are #6 "Just as Long as I Have Breath," and #88 "Calm Soul of All Things" and "Come, Come, Whoever You Are" (#188). Occasionally I fantasize about getting together a quartet to give that last one the full a cappella "spectrum of music" treatment - chorale, round, doo-wop, country, rap, torch. . . ;-)

Least favorites - "Bring Many Names" (tries too hard for my taste) and "I Wish I Knew How" (goes on and _on_). They're perennial favorites at my congregation, and I'll sing almost anything, but I can't help it - at heart I'm a German chorales and Vaughan Williams processionals kind of gal. On All Saints the early service featured a particularly drab lineup of unison songs - you can imagine how overjoyed I was when the late service was revised to include "For All the Saints."

All that said, what's currently looping in my head is "A Mighty Fortress" and "Onward Christian Soldiers," which were the bookends to an Episcopalian funeral I attended yesterday. I overheard a parishioner comment on the latter when they saw it in the leaflet: "You can tell you're in a Southern church" - apparently the unequivocally martial lyrics have fallen out of favor elsewhere. I wonder. . .


November 22, 2003 07:46 PM | Permalink for this comment

At my congregation's recent auction, a bidding war ensued when the congregation had the opportunity to bid on banning a hymn for 3 months. Turns out that every bidder wanted to ban the same hymn... "We Would Be One."


November 25, 2003 08:15 AM | Permalink for this comment

I like the music to "When In Our Music God is Glorified," but I really, really dislike the lyrics. It's not about God or community, it's about glorifying musicians themselves. And when most churches I've been to have musicians who find a new dimension in the world of sound, it is *not a good thing*. Maybe this is because I'm a Haugean and not UU at all, but I don't think so.


November 28, 2003 11:50 AM | Permalink for this comment

Here's Anglicans Online's Top 20 Desert Island Hymns.

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