The care of all we seek or see
was put into our hands,
but through our human arrogance
we thought we ruled all lands.
There was no thing beyond our grasp,
nor task beyond our means,
but limits hold us, keep us back,
deep-rooted in our genes.
Within a world of tooth and claw,
competing for a place,
we thought that we could dominate:
a mighty, human race.
But shocked, we should have recognized
our place within a plan,
we should have used our intellect
to prove our finite span.
We thought we were invincible
but now we understand,
a virus that we cannot see
could mark our final stand.
‘Pride comes before a fall’, they say,
and we were very proud,
but now we rue the day we spoke,
to state our case out loud.
When we sing we embody (in-body) the theology that we have read. We take it in, translate, interpret and transmit. In the process are we, perhaps, formed or changed by the medium? Not pushing the metaphor too far, is it in any way like eating – what we eat becomes part of us, we excrete some of it, and it can nourish or poison…
So what we sing, and even how we sing, becomes important in a way we may not have envisaged before. It is one thing to read a text which remains remote, like looking at a cake and not eating it; it is something altogether different to take the text in and to re-transmit it. That we might do by reading aloud. The sheer physicality of singing, the presence of music, steps everything up a gear. Wesley knew that. That is why hymns were so important. The hymns provided portmanteau scriptures or interpretations, theology or doctrine. These were memorised and could be shared with others. And you can never lose them – which can become a bit of an irritation!
Why do you like this hymn or that? Why do you find some hymns abhorrent? ‘A good sing’ says as much, if not more, about feeling as it does about understanding or literary or musical quality. But Britta Martini wants to push us further by asking what is there in the expression of the music or the structure of a text, key or melody, image or metaphor, that causes a hymn to affect us in this way?