Friday, May 19, 2006

Great Lines from Not-so-great Hymns

I often think about hymns I grew up with. I dutifully sang them along with hundreds of other good folks at the Peak and Eastside Church of Christ in Dallas. Many of the hymns, however, had lyrics that were absolutely meaningless to a six year-old. And maybe even a sixty-six year-old. We have made such strides with our worship music. With the possible exception of "Days of Elijah", the words are intelligible and meaningful.

But let's harken back (whatever that means) to the days of yesteryear. One of the hymns sung with regularity at our place was a ditty called "Crossing the Bar". This one always sent me into an intellectual free-fall. It started with the word "bar". Growing up where I did, "bar" always meant a seedy beer joint on Samuell Blvd. Why would Christians even be near there, let alone "cross" the bar?

A section of the lyrics now seems hysterical in light of our land-locked, 1950's-ish congregation:

But such a tide as moving seems asleep,
Too full for sound or foam

Can tides sleep? What would cause them to be "too full for sound or foam"? Too much shrimp the night before? How many shrimp does it take to rob a tide of its foam?

And what in the name of Alfred Lord Tennyson (he wrote those immortal words) does this have to do with the Church of Christ being the only true church?

I welcome your own recollections.


Brooke said...

Do not knock "The Days of Elijah." That is by far one of my favorite praise songs.

Tim Perkins said...

Me, too! But I think people (like me) are at a loss to explain the lyrics before the "Behold He comes!" part.

Carole said...

THAT'S not the part that confuses ME. Doesn't that refer to the Second Coming, with Revelation's description? Some of the other lyrics are confusing, but I do LOVE that song!

Blake Perkins said...

Great post. I do love the old classics. Just a Little Talk with Jesus will always be one my all time favorites. The only problems I have with "Days of Elijah" are the microphone people blasting their "I think I can sing" voices into your face and the song becomes all about them.

Carole said...

Blake, Dear, you are SO messed up on that matter! Our praise team is made up of some of the most humble people I know.