Saturday, January 14, 2012

Hymns and Hers

I listen to two radio stations:  the local NPR one (even though I had vowed to give up NPR for their hypocrisy, I fell away from my vow) and the local Moody station.  On one I get news, on the other music.  Today I heard Fernando Ortega sing one of the most common hymns of American experience, "Come Thou Fount."

I know all the words by heart, (well, the first, second, and last stanzas--Baptists are notorious for not singing the third stanzas).  However, I only remember them to music, so I had to look at another website.

Come Thou Fount of every blessing
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace;
Streams of mercy, never ceasing,
Call for songs of loudest praise
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
Sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount! I'm fixed upon it,
Mount of God's unchanging love.

2. Here I raise my Ebenezer;
Hither by Thy help I'm come;
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure,
Safely to arrive at home.
Jesus sought me when a stranger,
Wandering from the fold of God;
He, to rescue me from danger,
Interposed His precious blood.

3. O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I'm constrained to be!
Let that grace now like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here's my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.

The words have been changed from the original text to be more singable and modern; some hymnals don't use Ebenezer anymore (what does the song have to do with Scrooge?).  But the verse that stings me, bothers me, and which I won't sing, is "Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, Prone to leave the God I love."  Otherwise, I like the song, but I don't think some of the words of the last stanza are Biblical. 

I do not believe in steps of sanctification.  Yes, we grow, but there is no second blessing, etc.  We are sealed at conversion, not later, unto the day of redemption.  So to sing these words as a Christian makes no sense to me. 

You might say I am nitpicking, and you would be right, because quite a few of our songs are not really doctrinal.  We sing some really off the wall things in church because we are caught up in the moment and the tunes are nice and everyone else is singing.  We ask God to save us again when he already has; we focus too much on the experience and not the author of the experience; we talk too much about ourselves.   Even worse, we promise God actions we will never keep and we know we won't.  This is true of older songs as much as newer ones.

But now I am just complaining and sound curmudgeonly.  The gift of music is joyous, although we let it distort our thinking sometimes. 

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