Sorry, but Hymns ain’t what they used to be

“Not to know what happened before we were born,” wrote the Roman orator Cicero, “is to remain perpetually a child—for what is the worth of human life unless it is woven into the life of our ancestors by the records of history.”

Cicero was certainly no slouch when it came to observing the human condition and his words strike at the heart of the greatest failing of modern education—its manifest contempt for the history of Western culture.

To forget our past, is to lose the way to our future: If we don’t know where we’ve come from, how can we know where we are going? For Christians, this loss of respect for the past is particularly serious. It cuts us off from communion with the vast majority of the members of our faith—those who have gone before us and who worship with us daily, but, as the great Bidding Prayer puts it, “on another shore.”

The Church is not composed solely of “Christ’s Church Militant Here In Earth.” The Church Expectant and the Church Triumphant actually have a rather more important say in the matter. Losing touch with them means losing touch with our faith. Nowhere are we losing touch with our past faster than in the realm of hymnody. With this mind, I’d like to share this very clever and decidedly apt parody of Hymn 435. GPH✠


Dear Lord and Father of mankind,
Forgive our foolish ways;

For most of us, when asked our mind,
Admit we still most pleasure find,
In hymns of ancient days.


The simple lyrics, for a start,
Of many a modern song,

Are far too trite to touch the heart;
Enshrine no poetry, no art;
And go on much too long


O, for a rest from jollity
And syncopated praise!
What happened to tranquility?
The silence of eternity

Is hard to hear these days.


Send thy deep hush subduing all
Those happy claps that drown
The tender whisper of thy call;
Triumphalism is not all
For sometimes we feel down.


Drop thy still dews of quietness
Till all our strummings cease;
Take from our soul the strain and stress
Of always having to be blessed;
Give us a bit of peace.


Breathe through the beats of praise-guitar
Thy coolness and thy balm;

Let drum be dumb, bring back the lyre,
Enough of earthquake, wind and fire,
Let’s hear it for some calm.

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