Hymns and Their Texts: Rhythmic, Rhymed Rituals of Language

As I prepared this talk, I also consulted with some of my hymn-text-writing colleagues. These are people who craft texts only, apart from music. I asked them questions along the lines of “why do you write hymn texts?” or “what value do you see in hymn texts?” and such. I don’t think it was a coincidence that there was a lot of resonance between their various responses, or that I was able to use their responses to sort my own perspectives together into six separate groups.

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To the Victor . . .

As I looked at those centuries-old structures in Spain, built by religious folk whose gods had beaten another’s, I thought of the increasing number of razed or re-purposed church buildings in the U.S. and found myself wondering what might or might not be left of current structures in the year 2500. Who will be viewed as the conquered or conqueror? I don’t pretend to be a savvy prognosticator, but I do believe that history is beginning to be written…today.

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The Fifty-first Anniversary of the Closing of Vatican II

Sometimes I think of the mystery of the Incarnation—central to Advent and Christmas—as God deciding to enroll in the “Human Being 101” course. Not because God didn’t grasp what it was like to be fully human, but because WE didn’t grasp that God fully knew our human experience. So, in the person of Jesus, God lived among us and knew our joys and hopes, our griefs and anxieties first-hand. And we still unfold and celebrate that mystery in our own day-by-day living as members of Christ’s Body.

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