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Odd Cranky Hymns
January 7, 2014 |
What hymns do you remember growing up as a Plymouth Brethren? Which were your favorites?
The Brethren could not use musical instruments in worship because the New Testament did not authorize that. Somehow we felt okay about driving cars and using furnaces, but there was no organ or piano in our Meeting Hall, and the singing tended to be wavery. Also, the Brethren did not go for the familiar hymns of Charles Wesley and Isaac Watts and Fanny Crosby so much as odd cranky hymns that, while hardly singable, were considered theologically stronger. And then the schismatic nature of the Brethren split us into smaller and smaller meetings and as the younger ones drifted away to mainstream churches, the singing became very thin indeed. Singing is an adhesive. There are people who go to church for the chance to sing in harmony with other people, whose beliefs don't exactly match the Creed. The most wonderful singing I ever heard was an audience in Goshen, Indiana, at a Mennonite college, in a big concert hall. I was supposedly the performer but when I started them out on a hymn, they rose up like angels and sang it, from memory, in six-part harmony, and thought nothing of it. And then another and then another. It was pretty marvelous. Nothing like it.