Thursday, May 22, 2008

Giving In

I am preaching at my church this memorial day weekend--a challenge, which I readily accept. It is a challenge, because, while I very much enjoy patriotic music, I do not think the church is the best place for it. Patriotic music is written very much in praise of our country or the people who have served it so sacrificially and it is very powerful music. So powerful, in fact, that it can override our praise of Christ.

I plan to reference memorial day in a very positive fashion this Sunday, but I decided against patriotic hymns. I received a note from the choir director this morning reminding me that it was Memorial day and I might want to include patriotic music; though the choice was mine to make. I looked at the bulletin and noticed that each of the prelude pieces were patriotic, as was the introit, the anthem, and the recessional. I figured we were covered and sent a note back that we would keep the hymns as I had originally chosen. This evening at choir practice, this became a big issue. So this evening, I received a call from my Senior Pastor pleading with me, "after you leave, I still need to have a relationship with my choir." After some conversation, I decided to honor his request--"America the Beautiful" it is. For the sake of the flow of worship, it will be the first hymn--that's right, for fellow liturgy followers, that is the place we typically sing a hymn in praise of Christ. I began looking at the words for America the Beautiful to review what exactly we will be singing. The first half of each verse is a praise of something American, the people who serve America, etc. The second half is a brief prayer to God on behalf of America. I can appreciate the second half of each verse, but I remain troubled that in the place where we typically sing praise to Christ, we instead sing praise to America. Nothing against America--I love this place in many many ways--It just isn't Christ.

In a sense, I feel like I am giving in--compromising. But I hope I am doing so without compromising my integrity.

1 comment:

The Thief said...

I agree with you on the premise that the church isn't the place for patriotic music, and I'm sorry you were bullied by that senior pastor and choir into having to supplant the "hymn in praise of Christ" with a "hymn in praise of America."