Tag Archives: hymn

Hymns are hip

Other people try to be hip. Minnesota singer-songwriter-musician and now Nashota House seminarian Tyler Blanski IS hip–in the most Godly, positive possible meaning of the word. And when he says hymns are hip too, you can take his word for it. Here’s a sample of his post on the topic:

It does something to you. To stand and sing hymns in a chapel packed with men and women, all wearing their cassocks and surplices, all kneeling and crossing themselves profusely, all lifting their prayers to God changes you. You might think singing hymns is painfully awkward, banal, or for grandparents. But let me tell you, when you hear a chorus of voices booming and thundering, O Worship the King, all gorious above! O gratefully sing his power and his love! Our shield and defender, the Ancient of Days, pavilioned in splendor, and girded with praise!, and when you get to sing along with all your heart, you begin to see that our grandparents were actually badasses (in the “formidable, excellent” sense of the word). You can see the fear of God on your peer’s faces, or the joy of the Lord, or humility to the point of tears. Two days ago, while singing hymns, I could not maintain complete stoicism, and started crying before Christ.

I didn’t know it, but I love hymns. You think what you want is a U2 concert, but you don’t. Since I’m a folk-singer, guitar-hammering rocker, I cannot believe I’m saying this, but when sung by people who care, and when song boldly and with great joy, hymns make our contemporary lyrics and rock ballads sound like Junior High band practice (although, contemporary worship can sometimes also be amazingly beautiful and rich). Maybe it’s because “the lyrics” are so often genuine poetry. Or maybe it’s because the human voice remains the most beautiful instrument on earth. Because it is the only instrument made by God Himself, and not man, some medieval Christians forbade instruments of any kind in the sanctuary. Regardless of the reason, the singing of hymns here at Nashotah House has been for me a surprising form of spiritual formation.

Thy bountiful care what tongue can recite? It breathes in the air; it shines in the light; it streams from the hills, it descends to the plain, and sweetly distills in the dew and the rain!

Thanks, Tyler! Today you reminded me of one of the Good things in life.

“St. Patrick’s Breastplate”–original poem and hymn

Though probably not from Patrick himself (it is more likely dated to the 8th than the 5th century), “St. Patrick’s Lorica” (breastplate) is a stirring piece of early Celtic devotion. I’ll give it here first in a translation printed in Christian History’s issue on Celtic Christianity. Then I’ve added the 1889 hymnic adaptation by Cecil Frances Alexander, wife of Anglican primate for Ireland William Alexander. You can hear the tune for that hymn here.

For some further information on Patrick and Celtic Christianity, see this post.

I Rise Today
The most famous Celtic prayer shows why the Celts are known for exalting both creation and the Creator.
“Patrick” | posted 10/01/1998 12:00AM

I rise today
in the power’s strength, invoking the Trinity
believing in threeness,
confessing the oneness,
of creation’s Creator. Continue reading