Friday, 6 December 2013

ballads

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 Gimme That Old Time Religion...


OK! I am not a big Christmas fan. I am not a total abstainer either, but I tend to cringe more at "Jesus-Is-The-Reason-For-The-Season stuff than rush out to put it on the front page of a gospel tract. Having said that, I enjoy being in shopping malls and listening to the piped music having someone - if only Bing Crosby - sing "Silent Night" or "Joy to the World."  More often than not, however, many of the Christmas songs are not about the supposed reason i.e. the birth of Jesus, but the event itself. Hence we have songs about Christmas that barely mention Christ at all. Hardly suprising when the Bible says that the natural man (left unrestrained and to himself) does not receive the things of the spirit of God. If he has little care for his need of a Saviour, then the birth of that Saviour will not enthuse him any. Christmas without Christ can be done.

My post today is not so much about Christmas though. It is about hymns about old time religion and how they are replacing hymns about Christ. These are hymns that are based on Fundamentalist culture rather than on the Person and work of Jesus Christ.  I first picked this up a few years ago when I heard a female soloist sing the following words:

There's A Fam'ly Bible on the table
Each page is torn and hard to read
But The Fam'ly Bible on the table
Will ever be my key to memories
At the close of day when work was over
And when the evening meal was done
Dad would read to us from The Fam'ly Bible
And we'd count our many blessings one by one

Chorus:
I can see us sittin' 'round the table
When from The Fam'ly Bible Dad would read
I can hear my mother softly singing
Rock of Ages, Rock of Ages cleft for me
This old world of ours is full of troubles
But this world would oh, so better be
If we'd find more Bibles on the table
And mothers singing Rock of Ages cleft for me
 
Chorus:
I can see us sittin' 'round the table
When from The Fam'ly Bible Dad would read
I can hear my mother softly singing
Rock of Ages, Rock of Ages cleft for me...
  
The world indeed would be a better place if Dad read from the 1611 King James Bible and we all were heard singing Mr Toplady's great hymn. But that's the point. Why not just sing "Rock of Ages cleft for me" instead of singing about singing it? There is room for ballads (for this is what it is) but hardly in the worship of God. 
Other Fundamentalist culture lines include:  "You may think I'm a little old fashioned, well that's alright with me!" Is this just the modern way of writing (as John Bunyan did over 300 years ago) "I'll care not what men say, but labour night and day, to be a pilgrim?" If so, you can see the shift again. Bunyan used the language of Scripture. He confessed to be a pilgrim. Doubtless he had verses like Hebrews 11:13 and 1 Peter 2:11 in mind. Today, the words "a little old fashioned" seem to relate more to white shirts, conservative ties and (more frequently) cuff links. (Yes, the Bible is there to support the famous nose wipe and oft talked about cuff links). When we see some of the tweets emenating from this subculture, we often wonder how much the old KJV is actually opened and studied in context. Not so long ago, the self professed "old paths" preacher above linked a picture of a precariously perched Billy Sunday straddling a pulpit to the text "He maketh his ministers of flame of fire"  (Hebrews 1:7) and (in captial letters) the assurance that such is "STILLTHE BIBLE WAY!" Look up the basic commentaries - Matthew Henry etc., - and see how many of them see the ministers refer to anything other than angelic beings. 

As much as I love the romanticism of Dixie and beautiful sunsets over American priaries and strumming guitars and old yellowed, tear stained KJV's etc., yet when it comes to the worship of God, I am constrained to say; "Sirs, we would see Jesus..." 
 #RantOver

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