Monday, June 28, 2010

Morning and Evening Hymns

Have you ever used a hymnbook for your devotion time? This morning I was up a bit earlier than usual (4:30 a.m.), so I pulled the 1964 The Methodist Hymnal off my book shelf. This was published before the feminists got a hold of the English language, the revision beginning in 1960, and while the thees and thous still made it easy to rhyme. It is both ecumenical and Wesleyan.

So I turned to the section "Morning and Evening." To my surprise, there weren't very many morning hymns. And also evening is often presented in somewhat sinister themes. But think about it. In the days before electricity, or even in 3rd world countries today, after the sun went down there was no light. Only the wealthy could have afforded candles and kerosene, or whale oil, or whatever was being used for light. Darkness was not your friend--especially because theives and animals could attack. The other night we had a storm here (Lakeside) and the power went out around midnight for 2.5 hours. It's amazing how black it is--our very tall trees even blot out the sky, which of course was cloud covered.

But I did see a nice Chinese translated hymn, "Rise to greet the sun," by Chao Tzu-Ch'en, translated by Bliss Wiant to the melody of a Chinese folk melody.

Rise to greet the sun,
Reddening in the sky,
Warriorlike and strong,
Comely as a groom;
Birds pass high in flight,
Fragrant flowers now bloom;
With the gracious light
I my toil resume.

Father, I implore,
Safely keep this hild'
Make my conduct good,
Actions calm and mild;
Venerating age,
Humbly teaching youth,
Always serving thee,
Sharing they rich truth.

May this day be blest;
Trusting Jesus' love,
My heart's freed from ill,
Fair blue sky's above.
Glad for cotton coat,
Plain food satisfies;
All my countless needs
Thy kind hand supplies. Amen

Interesting cultural points. It is the groom who is comely, not the bride. Age is venerated. The coat is cotton and the food plain. Christianity is not a Western religion; it is world wide and user friendly for all cultures. It is growing very fast in China and Africa. Much more vibrant than in the U.S., and certainly stronger than in Europe.

2 comments:

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