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Source: (consider it) Thread: Singing Our Doubts?
Kaplan Corday
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Last night we went to the Carol Service at St Paul's Cathedral in Melbourne where I was intrigued to hear a choral setting of Thomas Hardy's The Oxen, with its final line "hoping it might be so".

Now admittedly the poem deals with a pious folk belief in animals kneeling at midnight on Christmas Eve, rather than with any central Christian doctrine.

But it is of a piece with Hardy's wider doubts, which can be found elsewhere in poems such as The Darkling Thrush or prose such as Tess of the D'Urbervilles.

Would anything be served by our having an opportunity to at least acknowledge our doubts during worship - settings of selections from Tennyson's In Memoriam for example, or Betjeman's Christmas ("And is it true?"), or even Arnold's Dover Beach, or perhaps something more contemporary?

After all, we use Psalms as part of our liturgy which express confusion, doubt and questioning.

[ 24. December 2017, 23:25: Message edited by: Kaplan Corday ]

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Belle Ringer
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Tonight we sang traditional songs that were, all of them, wrong, at least in some ways.

Some make one or another list of "bad songs", like Away in a manger. Others are controversial - did the 3 kings bring myrrh for burial and frankensence for burning or did they being two healing herbs with practical uses? (Some hebalists thing the "gold" was tumeric, a fantastic healer)

And so on.

Somewhere in the midst of this nonsense, there is truth. It's hidden and boldly apparent. When you see it, it was so obviously there, but then we miss it again, repeatedly.

Sing whatever you want, somehow it's all wrong, and yet it's so simply and abundantly right. You haven't a chance and yet you'll catch glimpses.

So we just celebrate, all wrong, but it's the best we know to do.

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Golden Key
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AIUI, gold can have healing uses, too.

Really good post, BTW!

[ 25. December 2017, 03:26: Message edited by: Golden Key ]

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Ian Climacus

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I've always appreciated the Psalms used in worship. Besides their beauty, the ones with doubt resonate with my doubts and mustard seed size faith.

I personally would be happy with some doubting songs or readings. I think if it were a poem or song written in a specific instance a short reflection from the cleric could be useful to set context.

Balance could be an issue, though. Despite my weak faith, singing or proclaiming certainty and truth has a great appeal to me, and is not something I want to lose.

Another issue could be those of stronger faith not identifying...or not thinking doubts belong in a formal service. Would not want to alienate anyone.

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mousethief

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quote:
Originally posted by Ian Climacus:
Another issue could be those of stronger faith not identifying...or not thinking doubts belong in a formal service. Would not want to alienate anyone.

I wonder if that's not too high a bar. No matter what you do, someone will be offended. Unless you make it so milquetoast that it has no content at all.

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Karl: Liberal Backslider
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Proclaiming the truth we hope is the truth is one thing. Proclaiming certainty when we are unsure is just lying.

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Might as well ask the bloody cat.

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Eutychus
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Hooray (in this case) for translators taking liberties with the text!

The notorious Bethel has popularised Paul Baloche's the same love which includes, as I now discover, the lines:

You take the faithless one aside
And speak the words "You are mine"
You call the cynic and the proud
Come to me now

Which sounds a bit like getting a telling-off from the headmaster.

The back translation of the French, however, is:

To those who faith is plagued by doubts
To those who stumble, you open wide your arms
And call them to come to you

Which I can sing with far more conviction than I could the English. Perhaps it just shows we are all Cartesian over here.

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Bishops Finger
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I recall a sermon preached at Our Place a few years ago by our Archdeacon. Subject was John the Baptist, and the Archdeacon pointed out that, as JtB had doubts about Jesus, it's OK for us to not only have doubts, but to express them as well.

Just so, and, IMHO, there's no harm in expressing those doubts in our music and hymnody.

IJ

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Our words are giants when they do us an injury, and dwarfs when they do us a service. (Wilkie Collins)

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lilBuddha
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quote:
Originally posted by Karl: Liberal Backslider:
Proclaiming the truth we hope is the truth is one thing. Proclaiming certainty when we are unsure is just lying.

I do think people honestly proclaim faith without having doubted. To me, though, it renders the word meaningless. Faith with no question is as virtue unchallenged or courage, never having had anything to fear. Without a test, it is impossible to ascertain its strength.

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que sais-je
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quote:
Originally posted by Karl: Liberal Backslider:
Proclaiming the truth we hope is the truth is one thing. Proclaiming certainty when we are unsure is just lying.

Trouble is, I'm never completely sure. Montaigne observed that we must have great confidence in our conjectures to burn people at the stake for them.

But confidence is a psychological factor: arguments in politics, philosophy, theology or physics are rarely final. If we cannot refute them, they may still be false.

Thomas Browne : Where we desire to be informed, 'tis good to contest with men above ourselves; but, to confirm and establish our opinions, 'tis best to argue with judgments below our own, that the frequent spoils and victories over their reasons may settle in ourselves an esteem and confirmed opinion of our own.

It's dangerous to confuse how the universe is with how it seems to us.

But I may be wrong.

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"controversies, disputes, and argumentations, both in philosophy and in divinity, if they meet with discreet and peaceable natures, do not infringe the laws of charity" (Thomas Browne)

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mousethief

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quote:
Originally posted by Karl: Liberal Backslider:
Proclaiming the truth we hope is the truth is one thing. Proclaiming certainty when we are unsure is just lying.

I think we can get carried away with admitting out doubts. We don't need to do that every time we open our mouths. Christianity isn't about us. It's about Christ. We can sing about Christ, and our feelings for Christ, and our beliefs about Christ, without having to add a codicil every single time about ourselves.

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Bishops Finger
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Yes, and, IIRC, that was much the burthen of our Archdeacon's sermon wot I referred to earlier.

IJ

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Our words are giants when they do us an injury, and dwarfs when they do us a service. (Wilkie Collins)

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Dafyd
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There are genres that are good for expressing doubts in. Communal singing is not one of them I think. Singing, especially communal singing, is best at expressing emotions like wanting, longing, joy, grief. Doubt isn't really one of them.

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we remain, thanks to original sin, much in love with talking about, rather than with, one another. Rowan Williams

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Lyda*Rose

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I don't know. Psalms are sung.

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Karl: Liberal Backslider
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I seem to be being misunderstood. Asking me to sing "great is the victory thou o'er death hast won" is fine, even though I'm not sure, but I struggle with "no more we doubt thee" because it's simply Not True.

[ 26. December 2017, 08:00: Message edited by: Karl: Liberal Backslider ]

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Morgan
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quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
I do think people honestly proclaim faith without having doubted. To me, though, it renders the word meaningless. Faith with no question is as virtue unchallenged or courage, never having had anything to fear. Without a test, it is impossible to ascertain its strength.

And not just its strength but even its very existence.
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Baptist Trainfan
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Many years ago, during my "practice service" before students at theological college, I dared to use the word "perhaps" in my sermon - referring to a trivial point of Biblical background. In the feedback afterwards, one student said, "How can he expect his congregation to believe when he's not sure himself?" Later on, my tutor never mentioned this in his review of the service, so eventually I asked him about the comment. "Oh", he said, "he'll learn!"

I think there is a place for acknowledging doubt in services, so long as it doesn't become such an incessant trope that it starts to insidiously diminish faith rather than help it. I think, too, that there is something to be said about collective creeds which say, "We believe ..." in which we are not expressly confessing our own faith but the faith of the Church, whether locally or on a wider scale.

FWIW I quite often use a Communion liturgy which includes these words:
"So, come,
If you have much faith
and if you have little,
if you have been here often
and if you have not been for a long time,
if you have tried to follow
and if you have failed".
I stress in fact the suggestion that those who feel their faith is weak are particularly welcome.

And, in my view, doubt is a necessary corollary of faith which, by definition, can never be 100% certain.

[ 26. December 2017, 08:23: Message edited by: Baptist Trainfan ]

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Enoch
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quote:
Originally posted by Karl: Liberal Backslider:
I seem to be being misunderstood. Asking me to sing "great is the victory thou o'er death hast won" is fine, even though I'm not sure, but I struggle with "no more we doubt thee" because it's simply Not True.

But does a hymn have to reflect exactly what you feel like at the moment you sing it? And has it got to be able to do that for every member of the congregation individually and personally for that exact moment? Unless it was so spectacularly bland as to be almost meaningless, it would be a truly impossible task.

As two lines from one of the greatest hymns for Easter Sunday, with a triumphal tune those words state where some of us are, where, presumably, the rest of us would all like to be, where we aspire to be, and what Easter says. They put into song the hope of our faith.

Like the creeds, it is also making a 'we' statement, not an 'I' one. This is what we cumulatively believe, even if some of us aren't feeling quite as sure as at this moment, but it's where we all want to be.

As such, I'd counsel that however unsure you feel today, it's good to join in and sing them, unless you really want to cherish and hothouse your doubts, unless your doubts have become some sort of 'Precious', which would be a spiritual symptom of something much more serious.


I'm more uncomfortable about too many 'I' statements in hymns. Yes, there are plenty in the psalms and this could be a valuable subject for study and reflection, but,
"All my silver and my gold,
not a mite would I withhold ..."
that could be encouraging congregations into Ananias and Sapphira territory,

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Enoch
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Baptist Trainfan, you got in your reply while I was writing mine. Thank you. That makes a lot of sense.

Does anybody know? I'm fairly sure the extract you quote comes originally from something by St John Chrysostom but a précis seems to have appeared in a number of very slightly different forms sometime in the late nineteenth century and I don't know where, when or which one first.

It ought to be very much good theology that coming to the Lord's Table is just what those who feel their faith is weak and shaky need, rather than to take the line that it is a reward and privilege only suitable for those whose faith is already so strong and abundant that it hardly needs further nourishment.

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Karl: Liberal Backslider
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quote:
Originally posted by Enoch:
quote:
Originally posted by Karl: Liberal Backslider:
I seem to be being misunderstood. Asking me to sing "great is the victory thou o'er death hast won" is fine, even though I'm not sure, but I struggle with "no more we doubt thee" because it's simply Not True.

But does a hymn have to reflect exactly what you feel like at the moment you sing it? And has it got to be able to do that for every member of the congregation individually and personally for that exact moment? Unless it was so spectacularly bland as to be almost meaningless, it would be a truly impossible task.

As two lines from one of the greatest hymns for Easter Sunday, with a triumphal tune those words state where some of us are, where, presumably, the rest of us would all like to be, where we aspire to be, and what Easter says. They put into song the hope of our faith.

Like the creeds, it is also making a 'we' statement, not an 'I' one. This is what we cumulatively believe, even if some of us aren't feeling quite as sure as at this moment, but it's where we all want to be.

As such, I'd counsel that however unsure you feel today, it's good to join in and sing them, unless you really want to cherish and hothouse your doubts, unless your doubts have become some sort of 'Precious', which would be a spiritual symptom of something much more serious.


Cherish? No, but acknowledge. And recognise that since we cannot know for certain, doubt is the only intellectually honest position. At least for my understanding of the terms "believe", "doubt", "know". What youbsay works for the first line, which is why I don't struggle with it, but the latter tends to say to me "you are not part of this 'we'". It's a feeling I've always had though, that I'm not really part of this, a sort of religious Imposter Syndrome if you will.

Perhaps I don't grasp faith. My brain divides things into things that are known or can be easily objectively discovered - germ theory of disease, overall shape of the Solar System, price of a pint at my local, things that are known not to be - dragons, Santa, Nigel Farage's humility, and things that can't be known - God, elves, life existing in a distant galaxy. I find it hard to imagine somehow deciding to hold an item from the third category as if it were in the first.

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Baptist Trainfan
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quote:
Originally posted by Enoch:
It ought to be very much good theology that coming to the Lord's Table is just what those who feel their faith is weak and shaky need, rather than to take the line that it is a reward and privilege only suitable for those whose faith is already so strong and abundant that it hardly needs further nourishment.

I would go further and suggest that any element of pride or satisfaction in one's allegedly strong faith in fact ought to debar one spiritually from the Table.
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Baptist Trainfan
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quote:
Originally posted by Karl: Liberal Backslider:
My brain divides things into things that are ... known not to be - dragons ....

I wouldn't say that here in Wales. Besides I've seen some.

Now let's get back to being serious ...

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Baptist Trainfan
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quote:
Originally posted by Karl: Liberal Backslider:
Perhaps I don't grasp faith. My brain divides things into things that are known or can be easily objectively discovered - germ theory of disease, overall shape of the Solar System, price of a pint at my local, things that are known not to be - dragons, Santa, Nigel Farage's humility, and things that can't be known - God, elves, life existing in a distant galaxy. I find it hard to imagine somehow deciding to hold an item from the third category as if it were in the first.

Rather as Donald Rumsefeld said: "There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don't know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don't know we don't know".
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Nick Tamen

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quote:
Originally posted by Enoch:
I'm fairly sure the extract you quote comes originally from something by St John Chrysostom but a précis seems to have appeared in a number of very slightly different forms sometime in the late nineteenth century and I don't know where, when or which one first.

There's a post somewhere on the ship about it from Jengie jon in, maybe, a thread about fencing the table. I'll dig and see if I can find it, though maybe she’ll pass along first and provide it again.

It is frequently heard in churches of my tribe. My memory is that it was penned by a Scottish Congregationalist minister and popularized by the Iona Community. Don't know about the St. John Chrysostom part. We'll see if any of my memory is right if I can track down the post.

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The first thing God says to Moses is, "Take off your shoes." We are on holy ground. Hard to believe, but the truest thing I know. — Anne Lamott

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Baptist Trainfan
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I'm pretty sure I posted - ages back - about fencing the table. But Jengie would probably know more about it than I. My church though practices "open communion" and invites all to partake, so the gate in the fence is wide.

[ 26. December 2017, 15:33: Message edited by: Baptist Trainfan ]

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Enoch
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I'm sure we did. My head is still awash with cold at the moment, but I'm sure I posted in it?

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Baptist Trainfan
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Jengie posted this article she'd written back in March.
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balaam

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quote:
Originally posted by Karl: Liberal Backslider:
I seem to be being misunderstood. Asking me to sing "great is the victory thou o'er death hast won" is fine, even though I'm not sure, but I struggle with "no more we doubt thee" because it's simply Not True.

It is a reality I long for, so I sing despite my doubts.

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Last ever sig ...

blog

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Dafyd
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quote:
Originally posted by Lyda*Rose:
I don't know. Psalms are sung.

They're chanted. I think that's different. You need to do less with your voice. And while some Psalms express doubt many don't.

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we remain, thanks to original sin, much in love with talking about, rather than with, one another. Rowan Williams

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Eutychus
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quote:
Originally posted by Karl: Liberal Backslider:
I seem to be being misunderstood. Asking me to sing "great is the victory thou o'er death hast won" is fine, even though I'm not sure, but I struggle with "no more we doubt thee" because it's simply Not True.

This time you are the victim and not the beneficiary of translation.

This hymn, irreverently referred to as the Protestant Marseillaise, was originally written in French.

The offending line in the original is

Craindrais-je encore ? Il vit à jamais

and the end line of that verse is

non je ne crains rien !

"Should I yet fear? He lives forever... no, I fear nothing".

Which is sung lustily as a form of collective reassurance.

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Let's remember that we are to build the Kingdom of God, not drive people away - pastor Frank Pomeroy

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Nick Tamen

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quote:
Originally posted by Baptist Trainfan:
Jengie posted this article she'd written back in March.

Thanks!


quote:
Originally posted by Dafyd:
quote:
Originally posted by Lyda*Rose:
I don't know. Psalms are sung.

They're chanted. I think that's different. You need to do less with your voice.
A) Chanting is a form of singing.
B) As many Reformed and Presbyterian worshippers can attest, metrical psalms are not chanted.

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The first thing God says to Moses is, "Take off your shoes." We are on holy ground. Hard to believe, but the truest thing I know. — Anne Lamott

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mousethief

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quote:
Originally posted by balaam:
quote:
Originally posted by Karl: Liberal Backslider:
I seem to be being misunderstood. Asking me to sing "great is the victory thou o'er death hast won" is fine, even though I'm not sure, but I struggle with "no more we doubt thee" because it's simply Not True.

It is a reality I long for, so I sing despite my doubts.
Lord, I believe. Help thou mine unbelief.

Right there with you.

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SvitlanaV2
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So Christianity is clearly a very fragile religion in the West, and those of us who claim to be believers, clergy and laity alike, often seem to do so almost in spite of orthodoxy, not because of it. So should we admit to that in our songs - or even our liturgies?

I'm not sure if there's much point. Mainstream churches that accept pluralism as a reality in their ranks don't need to 'sing' about doubt because they've already normalised it. Indeed, I think mainstream churches have to emphasise traditions of ritual orthodoxy precisely because they no longer emphasise an orthodoxy of belief. Since their members' faith isn't powerful or unified enough to keep them closely bound together, their old rituals and songs of certainty take on that role.

Doubtful people who attend stricter churches might get some comfort out of songs of doubt but those people exist in a contradiction; they choose to attend stricter churches!

On a more practical level, the pluralistic mainstream might have more sympathy for this kind of thing in theory, but that kind of Christian environment no longer seems to produce much popular Christian hymnody. I suppose you'd be looking at fashionable evangelical songwriters in their post-evangelical phase, but would there be much of a market for their stuff?

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RuthW

liberal "peace first" hankie squeezer
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quote:
Originally posted by SvitlanaV2:
Mainstream churches that accept pluralism as a reality in their ranks don't need to 'sing' about doubt because they've already normalised it. Indeed, I think mainstream churches have to emphasise traditions of ritual orthodoxy precisely because they no longer emphasise an orthodoxy of belief. Since their members' faith isn't powerful or unified enough to keep them closely bound together, their old rituals and songs of certainty take on that role.

I can't speak for all mainstream churches that no longer emphasize orthodoxy -- and I rather doubt you can either -- but at the United Church of Christ congregation where I work, which is theologically extremely liberal, the "old rituals and songs of certainty" are not what binds them together. People are drawn to that church and stay there because they feel loved and accepted there, because they share values with the people already there, and because they find a strong sense of community in the church.

They mostly use the UCC hymnal, but when that doesn't suit their theology, they change the words as necessary. The last minister found the theology of "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel" so unacceptable that he asked the poet-in-residence to write all new words.

They don't sing about doubt a whole lot, but what is emphasized isn't certainty so much as affirmation. The concern is mostly about making sure that the theology expressed in the anthems and hymns is suitably inclusive. To me it seems bland, and I think the particulars of traditional, orthodox Christianity are elided to the point that the theology is only nominally Christian. But as this congregation is holding its own when others in its denomination are dropping like flies, I think they must be on to something.

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SvitlanaV2
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quote:
Originally posted by RuthW:
I can't speak for all mainstream churches that no longer emphasize orthodoxy -- and I rather doubt you can either -- but at the United Church of Christ congregation where I work, which is theologically extremely liberal, the "old rituals and songs of certainty" are not what binds them together. People are drawn to that church and stay there because they feel loved and accepted there, because they share values with the people already there, and because they find a strong sense of community in the church.

They mostly use the UCC hymnal, but when that doesn't suit their theology, they change the words as necessary.

Thanks for reminding me of the American angle on things.

In the UK there isn't really an equivalent to what you're describing. Being 'theologically extremely liberal' isn't what the British 'mainstream' churches do, exactly. What they do is accept pluralism, on a practical level. But their official hymns, worship music and liturgies are almost uniformly orthodox.

The most liberal denominations here are the Unitarians and the Quakers, but they're no longer considered to be 'mainstream'. I suppose they deal with doubt by having no doctrines as such, and they probably provide 'strong sense of community' for a certain kind of person.

I've heard that Unitarians often take traditional hymns and change the words, but I've never seen an example of this.

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churchgeek

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Much of the discussion here implicitly raises the question, Why do we sing in church? Maybe considering that question would help.

Although the OP doesn't limit the expression of doubt to song: "Would anything be served by our having an opportunity to at least acknowledge our doubts during worship...?"

Does it make a difference if we express doubt through singing, or through another part of the liturgy? I think it is already often addressed at least occasionally in sermons, and in Scripture readings, and, maybe in some churches, in prayers.

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Gamaliel
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Again - and apologies in advance - surely it's one of these both/and things?

At our evangelical CofE parish here they tend to make a great play of inviting people not to say the words of the Creed - or even sing the hymns - if they don't believe the words. Somehow they think this puts visitors at their ease and also sets a line of demarcation - cross this line only if ...

I have to say I find it immensely irritating although I can understand why they do it and what they think they are trying to achieve.

FWIW I suspect that trying to 'manufacture' a collective sense of doubt is just as prone to problems as trying to create and maintain an atmosphere of fervent and unflagging faith - as Pentecostals and charismatics often aim to do.

There's no easy answer but I'd rather we simply presented the Gospel in whatever form our tradition clothes it in and allow people to engage or not engage as they see fit.

Any attempts to ratchet up the heights of fervour on the one hand or mess around with the words to present something so anodyne and bland that it loses its savour are going to hit the buffers at some point.

You'll either wear yourself out with the one or run out of steam with the other.

I've recently renewed contact with some of my former charismatic church-friends and whilst that's been great - they are really good folk - I noticed that while their language and 'delivery' hasn't changed a great deal they are all pretty jaded by all the efforts to keep things bouncy and intense.

I notice that Iona and Northumbria Community style prayers and liturgies are making an appearance. Some of those express doubt in a 'nevertheless' kind of way.

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Let us with a gladsome mind
Praise the Lord for He is kind.

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Curiosity killed ...

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quote:
Originally posted by SvitlanaV2:
<snip>
In the UK there isn't really an equivalent to what you're describing. Being 'theologically extremely liberal' isn't what the British 'mainstream' churches do, exactly. What they do is accept pluralism, on a practical level. But their official hymns, worship music and liturgies are almost uniformly orthodox.
<snip>
I've heard that Unitarians often take traditional hymns and change the words, but I've never seen an example of this.

There are quite a few hymn writers who do/did similar things:
Michael Forster
Fred Kaan
John Bell
Fred Pratt Green
Some of whom are rewriting traditional hymns to make them more theologically open. I have also seen hymns rewritten for a particular church.

Further discussion of such hymns will have to be in Dead Horses, because they are not universally loved.

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Mugs - Keep the Ship afloat

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SvitlanaV2
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Yes, I've heard of those writers, and sung some of their songs.

IME neither the updating of old hymns nor the practice of writing completely new words to old tunes is about incorporating doubt - when it comes to mainstream churches. The focus is normally on gender inclusivity, social justice, toning down references to divine anger, or removing warrish Christian language.

[ 27. December 2017, 10:33: Message edited by: SvitlanaV2 ]

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moonlitdoor
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quote:

posted by Karl Liberal Backslider

My brain divides things into things that are known or can be easily objectively discovered - germ theory of disease, overall shape of the Solar System, price of a pint at my local, things that are known not to be - dragons, Santa, Nigel Farage's humility, and things that can't be known - God, elves, life existing in a distant galaxy. I find it hard to imagine somehow deciding to hold an item from the third category as if it were in the first.


You do post some quite firmly held opinions on political subjects, which in my view definitely don't fall into the first two categories. That suggests to me that your third category might be a bit wider than unknowable, and include things which it is reasonable to have a strong belief about.

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We've evolved to being strange monkeys, but in the next life he'll help us be something more worthwhile - Gwai

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Curiosity killed ...

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Svitlana, I suggest the range of hymns you have sung may not be wide enough, for example, Michael Forster's Cry Freedom includes the words:
quote:
Cry ‘Freedom!’ in the church when
Honest doubts are met with fear
When vacuum-packed theology
Makes questions disappear
When journeys end before they start
And mystery is clear!

I know there are others.

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Mugs - Keep the Ship afloat

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Karl: Liberal Backslider
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quote:
Originally posted by moonlitdoor:
quote:

posted by Karl Liberal Backslider

My brain divides things into things that are known or can be easily objectively discovered - germ theory of disease, overall shape of the Solar System, price of a pint at my local, things that are known not to be - dragons, Santa, Nigel Farage's humility, and things that can't be known - God, elves, life existing in a distant galaxy. I find it hard to imagine somehow deciding to hold an item from the third category as if it were in the first.


You do post some quite firmly held opinions on political subjects, which in my view definitely don't fall into the first two categories. That suggests to me that your third category might be a bit wider than unknowable, and include things which it is reasonable to have a strong belief about.
I think you're making a category error, confusing values with objective truth-claims. I don't "believe in" socialism based on an assessment of the evidence for its existence. I know what you're getting at, but the processes by which I come to political and ethical positions do not seem applicable to questions of objective existence.

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Might as well ask the bloody cat.

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SvitlanaV2
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Curiosity killed....

Thanks for giving an example. I was hoping some would be provided.

I'm fond of the 19th c. hymn 'Pass Me Not O Gentle Saviour', which mentions the writer's unbelief.

[ 27. December 2017, 13:11: Message edited by: SvitlanaV2 ]

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Nick Tamen

Ship's Wayfaring Fool
# 15164

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quote:
Originally posted by SvitlanaV2:
Curiosity killed....

Thanks for giving an example. I was hoping some would be provided.

There's also John Bell's “We Cannt Measure How You Heal," which begins:
quote:
We cannot measure how You heal,
Or answer every sufferer's prayer.
Yet we believe Your grace responds
Where faith and doubt unite to care.

Or Bell's “Were I the Perfect Child of God," the first verse of which is:
quote:
Were I the perfect child of God
Whose faith was deep and love was broad,
Not doubtful, guilty, worn or flawed,
I'd gladly follow Jesus.
But I'm the child of what I've been
Estranged by much I've done and seen,
Afraid to show the love I mean,
Unfit to follow Jesus.



--------------------
The first thing God says to Moses is, "Take off your shoes." We are on holy ground. Hard to believe, but the truest thing I know. — Anne Lamott

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Enoch
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Quite a lot of favourite traditional hymns are not expressing quite that bouncy, doubt free, spiritual tiggerality that once again, entirely reasonably is under criticism. I wouldn't describe Lyte's Abide with me as exuberant,
quote:
2 Swift to its close ebbs out life's little day;
earth's joys grow dim, its glories pass away.
Change and decay in all around I see.
O Lord who changes not, abide with me.

Or this one from Newman
quote:
1 Lead, kindly light, amid the encircling gloom,
Lead thou me on;
The night is dark, and I am far from home;
Lead thou me on.
Keep thou my feet; I do not ask to see
The distant scene; one step enough for me.

2 I was not ever thus, nor prayed that thou
Should'st lead me on;
I loved to choose and see my path; but now
Lead thou me on.
I loved the garish day, and, spite of fears,
Pride ruled my will: remember not past years.

3 So long thy power hath blest me, sure it still
Will lead me on,
O'er moor and fen, o'er crag and torrent, till
The night is gone,
And with the morn those angel faces smile,
which I have loved long since, and lost awhile.

Note for Administrators. Lyte died in 1847 and Newman in 1890. So those extracts are both long out of copyright.

It's difficult sometimes to say what makes a hymn work or not work. I'm afraid that whatever his personal strengths and qualities, everything I personally have encountered written by the late Fred Kaan, I've found cringeworthy. But I think one thing that does make a difference is whether the hymn was written to express a strong spiritual emotion that the writer really felt in his or her guts, or whether it was written because he or she thought, 'wouldn't it be nice if we could have something people could sing about xxxxx ' whether xxxxx is living on an estate, collecting money for Shelter, total depravity, or uncertainties about the Virgin Birth.


But if you think we ought to have hymns about some subject or emotion, write one. Find a tune - preferably either your own or one written by somebody who died before the end of 1947 or whatever is the law where you live - and put some words to it.

[ 27. December 2017, 13:57: Message edited by: Enoch ]

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Brexit wrexit - Sir Graham Watson

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Chorister

Completely Frocked
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I'm particularly fond of 'Immortal, Invisible, God only wise'words here
as it attempts to express something which can't really be pinned down, rather than reduce God to neat concrete certainties.

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Retired, sitting back and watching others for a change.

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Rossweisse

High Church Valkyrie
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Thank you, Chorister. That's one of my favorites, too.

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I'm not dead yet.

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SvitlanaV2
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John Bell is mentioned above, but I don't think he's terribly popular in British churches these days. Maybe the URC sings a lot of his stuff?

I agree with that there are many traditional hymns that don't dismiss the anxieties and failures that we have. 'Hark, My Soul! It Is The Lord' comes to mind. In this hymn William Cowper talks about having a weak and faint love for God, and longing to have more.

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Bishops Finger
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Mayhew's Complete Anglican Hymns Old and New, which we use at Our Place, contains quite a few hymns by John Bell and Graham Maule.

Perhaps because of my Scottish roots, I rather like, not only the content of most of them, but also the use of Scottish folk melodies.

IJ

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Our words are giants when they do us an injury, and dwarfs when they do us a service. (Wilkie Collins)

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Moo

Ship's tough old bird
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quote:
Originally posted by Enoch:
I wouldn't describe Lyte's Abide with me as exuberant,
quote:
2 Swift to its close ebbs out life's little day;
earth's joys grow dim, its glories pass away.
Change and decay in all around I see.
O Lord who changes not, abide with me.


Lyte died of tuberculosis shortly after he wrote that. He wrote out of his own personal need; he wasn't thinking about how other people coped with their doubts.

Moo

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See you later, alligator.

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