Sunday, January 27, 2008

Enigmatic Hymn Quotation of the Day

Will you love the "you" you hide if I but call your name?

Huh?

Every time I play this I imagine the entire congregation making finger quotation marks. But they never do.

4 comments:

Alice said...

They're Anglicans, right? They're probably not used to gesturing during worship...

I had to do a search on that line to find out where it came from...it looks (from the words, at least)like it should be accompanied by guitar, not organ.

Osbert Parsley said...

The tune for this is a contrafacta of an upbeat Scottish folk tune - it doesn't work too badly on the organ, although the quick tempo makes it somewhat amusing to try to spit out two "you"s in a couple of seconds.

It's the text itself that gets me, though. I honestly have no idea what it means. I am, apparently, hiding a "me" that I ought to instead love? What?

SadOatcakes said...

Looking at the context, thanks to the power of our new Google overlords, I think it has mostly to do with the idea of being more 'ourselves' in Christ than we ever were before. That is, accepting the 'selves' we are underneath the hurt and sin that we also are, and growing to be more like the people we were meant to be.

Something something something. Have you read The Great Divorce (CS Lewis)? There are some passages that touch on this, although I cannot recall the specifics at the moment. Brilliant book, though.

Osbert Parsley said...

Maybe. Not entirely convinced. If the "us" we're supposed to love is our true nature to which we are growing in Christ, why would we want to hide it? On the other hand, if the "us" is the layer of pain and sin in our lives, which most people certainly do try to hide, why would we be called to love it? Maybe I'm dim.

I see this sort of thing as a weakness of contemporary hymnody. As contrasted with the more flowery language of Watts, the Wesleys et al, contemporary hymn writers try to write concise, gnomic sorts of poetry with memorable images that stick in the brain. Problem is that if the writer's artistic ability isn't up to it, you end up with a very confusing text. It is no good to say, as some do, that these issues are aesthetic rather than theological, because in a hymn text there is really no difference. And the stakes are higher than in other kinds of writing, because the text will be repeated time and time again, magnifying any flaws that might exist.

Good on you for mentioning The Great Divorce, though - haven't read that in years!