8.28.2009

Christian Music

I bind unto myself today
The strong Name of the Trinity,
By invocation of the same
The Three in One and One in Three.

I bind this today to me forever
By power of faith, Christ’s incarnation;
His baptism in Jordan river,
His death on Cross for my salvation;
His bursting from the spic├Ęd tomb,
His riding up the heavenly way,
His coming at the day of doom
I bind unto myself today.

I bind unto myself the power
Of the great love of cherubim;
The sweet ‘Well done’ in judgment hour,
The service of the seraphim,
Confessors’ faith, Apostles’ word,
The Patriarchs’ prayers, the prophets’ scrolls,
All good deeds done unto the Lord
And purity of virgin souls.

I bind unto myself today
The virtues of the star lit heaven,
The glorious sun’s life giving ray,
The whiteness of the moon at even,
The flashing of the lightning free,
The whirling wind’s tempestuous shocks,
The stable earth, the deep salt sea
Around the old eternal rocks.

I bind unto myself today
The power of God to hold and lead,
His eye to watch, His might to stay,
His ear to hearken to my need.
The wisdom of my God to teach,
His hand to guide, His shield to ward;
The word of God to give me speech,
His heavenly host to be my guard.

Against the demon snares of sin,
The vice that gives temptation force,
The natural lusts that war within,
The hostile men that mar my course;
Or few or many, far or nigh,
In every place and in all hours,
Against their fierce hostility
I bind to me these holy powers.

Against all Satan’s spells and wiles,
Against false words of heresy,
Against the knowledge that defiles,
Against the heart’s idolatry,
Against the wizard’s evil craft,
Against the death wound and the burning,
The choking wave, the poisoned shaft,
Protect me, Christ, till Thy returning.

Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me.
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

I bind unto myself the Name,
The strong Name of the Trinity,
By invocation of the same,
The Three in One and One in Three.
By Whom all nature hath creation,
Eternal Father, Spirit, Word:
Praise to the Lord of my salvation,
Salvation is of Christ the Lord.

- St. Patrick's Breastplate

Over the Mountains and the Seas,
Your river runs with Love for me,
And I will open up my heart
And let the healer set me free.

I'm happy to be in the truth
And I will daily life my hands,
For I will always sing of when your love came down.

I could sing of your love forever (4x)
- I Could Sing of Your Love Forever
Twelve men went to spy on Cannan
Ten were bad and two were good
What did they see when they spied on Cannan?
Ten were bad and two were good
Some saw giants big and tall
Some saw grapes in clusteres fall
Some saw God was in it all
Ten were bad and two were good
-Twelve Men Spy on Cannan

I find myself a little disappointed in St. Patrick for that hymn, because it is repetitive. I shake my head and say, so that's where they get it. But then I read it again and realize that the repetition has a purpose. That hymn teaches so much. It teaches the basics of the trinity, the creeds, the nature of omniscience, and the importance of theological orthodoxy. This is the purpose of hymns. Christian music starts out in the early church as Psalters and other scripture. Like the Hebrew people before them they sang the scripture, which encouraged memorization. We still do this today, especially for children. I can remember so many songs from Sunday School and Summer Camp that told the basic story of Noah, or the 12 spies on Canaan. These songs were simple, for children, and they told the story with one or two final lines that told me the significance of that story.
There were scripture songs, they were just important verses set to music, sometimes, again, with a summational line. Then hymns began to evolve in the 7th Century, particularly in Ireland and England, but their purpose remains the same. They teach, now theology and much more complex concepts. In a time when most people were illiterate, the church still knew the importance of an intellectual understanding of Christ.
The protestants spread their messages through hymns, Luther especially. The Great Awakening is spread through music, the Wesley's together pen hymns that get the church through a century of changes.
We reach the modern and post modern age and this whole structure seems to disappear in the American church. What do these songs teach? I think the better question might be, how many songs do we need to have to learn that God is love? What about the nature of that love? Well it sets us free, okay, from what? Where is the establishment of the need for that love?
Now, I have been corrected, there are a handful of modern songs that are hymns, even if I find the settings to be inappropriate for a sanctuary. I wonder what the state of the church will be in 20 or 50 years, when there are few if any hymns that address the theological needs of a church in the post-modern age. Do the teenagers in our churches have any answers when asked about the nature of the trinity? Can the adults in our churches explain the difference between polytheism and trinitarian monotheism? Even in an age where almost everyone can read, people need context to read in. How do you tell the difference between your heart's desire and the Spirit's leading if we haven't been taught the nature of the Spirit? Teaching is imperative, and not just pithy one line "truths", but real teaching. The nature of omniscience is not too complex a concept. We have dumbed down everything else about life, why not God?
If an illiterate Irish herdsman can memorize and sing St. Patrick's Breastplate, then anyone with a 5th grade education is more than prepared to hear about omniscience from the pulpit. We worship Christ through our understanding of him, not the random repetition of his name thrown into a mixture of love, forever, Abba, and sundry prepositions and adjectives.

"Let my find you by loving you,
let me love you by finding you." - St. Thomas Aquinas

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