Saturday, March 31, 2007

Revision 1

O faithful Christians far and wide
A hymn of gladness sing;
Behold, sent from His Father’s side,
A Prophet, Priest, and King!

He is the Prophet of the Lord,
Whose word is just and pure,
Who calls to men of all the world,
“Believe, obey, endure!”

Now in the Holy Place He stands,
The Lamb of God, The Christ!
From us, His perfect blood demands
A perfect sacrifice.

A Prophet, Priest, our mighty King
Victorious over all;
Let ev’ry heart high honor bring,
And low before Him fall.

The problems (in my mind) that exist with this version are...

1) too many rhymes of ring/bring/sing/King. They are fine rhymes in and of themselves, but have been used to the point of being over-used. They run the risk of being cliche. (I try to avoid cliches like the plague!) You may think of some rhymes as "scriptural rhymes" e.g. is there anything else that rhymes with "love" except "heaven above"? Whew... if that comes up, you still have work to do!

2) the slant rhyme of Christ/sacrifice is still there. But so is Lord/world.

3) some will certainly object to the use of "men" in verse 2, line 3 as not quite politically correct. I don't have a problem with it, since the convention has always been there to speak of mankind in that way, and that includes women!

The good points are...

1) I can't think of a hymn that makes the point that Christ's sacrifice demands a sacrifice of our self, at least not in this way. There are so many good hymns already in print that it is hard to think of an original thought or find a new way to make an old point. It is harder still to write something that will stand beside the great hymns and stand the test of time. Very hard indeed.

2) the contrast in the last verse between "high honor" and falling "low". We may only lift praise and honor to the Lord when we have sufficiently lowered ourselves.

3) Christ is describes as our High Priest, but not by using those words. It is implied since He is standing in the Holy Place and only the High Priest could do that under the law of Moses. In this case, we are referencing the book of Hebrews to know that the real Holy Place is in heaven itself and Christ is there as our High Priest.

So, the minor tweaks are done. If this is still not up to the high standards of a hymn, then I think it will need a complete re-write.

One last concern... as Reeves noted in his book "The Hymn As Literature" a good hymn is marked by "strong feeling under firm control". Does this hymn have strong feeling in it? Most people have heard sermons that were correct in every respect but had no passion in their delivery, and there are plenty of published hymns that lacked feeling. Nearly all of them have faded into obscurity. A hymn without passion is DOA.