One of the things I do with my spare time, and sometimes one of the things I do with my time that isn’t spare, is write new words to old hymn tunes. I am particularly interested in writing hymns that focus on certain concerns of Christianity I feel need real expression in fresh ways in every clime and culture: creation, providence, incarnation, crucifixion, resurrection, and eschatology.
In writing these hymns, I strive to think of these notions as enmeshed with one another. For example, I cannot think of the crucifixion, of the pain and torture it entailed for a real human body, without also holding up the incarnation, a moment that reminds us Christians that it was not only a human body suffering on that cross, but the divine body of God. Take John 14:8-10*:
Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but the Father who dwells in me does his works.
And so when I write hymns, I try to include and connect these doctrines with one another: they are, in my mind, incomprehensible without the connection. If Jesus is merely a human dying on the cross to pay off in blood and pain some cosmic injustice, the Christianity is an ugly religion with an ugly god who demands torn flesh as a payment for sin. But if Jesus is God, then the crucifixion is God’s expression of a solidarity and relationship with humanity that goes so deep as to understand the most extreme pains and heartaches that characterize human sadness and the failure of justice.
So in light of this thinking, I present a hymntext written recently. After the jump!