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Top Ten Worst Hymns

  /   Wednesday July 07, 2010  

The Curt Jester Jeff Miller, on his Twitter feed (which I retweeted), linked this heavily-commented blog post from First Things. For some reason, this has been a favorite topic for me.  I let it go for a while until I moved to North Carolina, where the music I heard brought it all back to me again.  It was the inspiration for my post back in March on what makes a good hymn for Mass.  Anyway, I agree with some of the post, but not all of it.

I’ve never heard Sons of God, Hear His Holy Word.  For some reason, I don’t mind Sing a New Song at all, and, while I don’t care for On Eagle’s Wings or We Remember one bit, I know of far worse things that we could be singing.  They actually left out several worse one like Ashes, which I believe should be number one because it is outright heresy.

Then again, maybe Sing a New Church deserves the top spot.  I can’t think of any reason other than someone’s agenda that would prompt the use of that hymn.  I didn’t even know that there was really a hymn with that name until I moved to North Carolina.  I went to a vigil Mass, still very cranky from having worked night shift, and this was the gathering song . . . oh, excuse me, opening hymn.  You can imagine how cranky I was during Mass.

Let’s not forget the self-congratulatory Anthem where we sing about being called and chosen to  a tune similar to “She’ll Be Coming ‘Round the Mountain When She Comes.”  How many people reading this have heard of the song Jerusalem, My Destiny?  It was sung several times during Lent, and I had no idea what we were singing.

One string that goes through most bad hymns is that they are too complicated for congregational singing and too high pitched for someone like me who can’t register on the treble clef.  If this isn’t dealt with, you can just forget about active participation in the singing of the hymns.  Fortunately, there are better hymns that have literally been available for centuries.

Category: Liturgy



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