Monday, September 24, 2007

Uh oh ...

On my way back in to the afternoon session of the House of Bishops, I picked up the "Song Book" for the "Community of Bishops Fall 2007." That is how 815 is referring to the House of Bishops - in fact, all the signs around the hotel says "Community of Bishops" and I thought it was just a hotel-thing, but no, that's what 815 is calling the House now - the "Community of Bishops."

One of the official hymns of the "Community of Bishops" is this one:

Mothering God

Mothering God,
you gave me birth
in the bright morning of this world.
Creator, source of every breath,
you are my rain, my wind, my sun.

Mothering Christ, you took my form,
offering me your food of light,
grain of life, and grape of love,
your very body for my peace.

Mothering Spirit,
nurturing one,
in amrs of patience hold me close,
so that in faith I root and grow
until I flower, until I know.

Here's another one (to be sung at the Eucharist, no less):

All creatures of the our God, sing praise,
with thankful hearts your voices raise
O sing praises! Alleluia!
O Brother Sun with golden beam,
O Sister Moon with silver gleam!

Dear Mother Earth, who day by day
unfolds our blessings on our way
O sing praises! Alleluia!
The flow'rs and fruit that in you grow,
let them God's glory also show!


Matthew said...

I'm not a huge fan of Maryology, but if that's the current theological thought of of TEC, I'd rather swim the Tiber than celebrate a triune 'mothering deity'.

I'm assuming the eucharistic hymn is a ham-handed attempt to reference St Francis. But that first one is a dilly. Words fail me.

Diezba said...

They're not that heterodox, really. I mean, it is silly that some people believe that they need to empower women by projecting feminine attributes onto the Godhead, but I don't think that there's really that much wrong with the first one other than the "Mothering" part. Frankly, if most of the heterodox bishops actually believed in the incarnation (as verse two suggests), we might be in a better position than we are.

As for the second song, again, I think it's silly, but I don't think the theology behind it is heterodox. The "Brother Sun ... Sister Moon ... Mother Earth" line is (I think) close to the original lyrics; i.e., we don't believe that Sun, Moon, and Earth are entities to receive praise, but to give it. Which, of course, is in line with Paul's assertion that Creation testifies to the glory of God; also, there's Jesus' own suggestion that "the rocks will cry out" should the people keep silence.

Let's not get carried away in gawking at the reappraisers.

Karen said...

A hymn to mother earth.

You know, I'm really glad I'm fasting... otherwise I'd worry about my stomach. Fasting has its benefits. And I'm not being facetious.

Diezba said...

Here are the original versions of the lyrics that were rewritten in the House of-- err, umm... "Community of Bishops" song book (I knew I remembered singing something like this at my old Southern Baptist church):

"All creatures of our God and King
Lift up your voice and with us sing,
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Thou burning sun with golden beam,
Thou silver moon with softer gleam!

"[Refrain] O praise Him! O praise Him!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

"Dear mother earth, who day by day
Unfoldest blessings on our way,
O praise Him! Alleluia!
The flowers and fruits that in thee grow,
Let them His glory also show."

--Francis of Assisi, ca. 1225; translated by William Draper, 1919.

RSchllnbrg said...


Gee, is it possible that you simply misread it, and that first one is supposed to be a hymn to the Mother of God? You know we could use a bit more singing about Mary these days ... Or are these meant to be the new tunes set aside for that great old English custom of Mothering Sunday?

Kevin said...

"They're not that heterodox, really.

Ummmm ... yeah right.

I guess if they truly are unitarians with a fetish for vestments, than they're not heterodox, if they're creedal than they have a problem -- add to the mix Scripture, even more of a conflict.

This is very neo-pagan wiccan, when they purify the room, let me know ...

Kevin said...

It get worst ...

"Mothering God, You Gave Me Birth," Number 2050
Words: Jean Janzen, based on the writing of Juliana of Norwich (15th century)

We went through this with "Mother Jesus" last year ... Juliana of Norwich made a few observations on Jesus crying for Jerusalem as mother hen protects her chicks, but in context of protector. It seems a new theology has developed over one mystics remarks (during the plague so Julian was seeking the protector in context).

Bad news for Mark & Jerald, this is a hymn from the Methodist side, looks as if there's work cutout for you ...

Kevin said...

Mark is already on the case.

ccinnova said...

Yikes! I shouldn't have read this, especially the "hymns," right after eating supper.

Anonymous said...

Kind of makes you want to puke, doesn't it...

Fr. Robert Hart said...

This is idolatry, pure and simple. This is not the God who has revealed himself, therefore it is the product of a demonically influenced imagination.

sam said...

It's the context that makes this sketchy, not the text itself.

There is nothing wrong with using "mother" language for God--that is consistent not only with the Bible but with the Tradition. It is no insignificant thing that this song does not actual call God "Mother" but "mothering."

We get into major problems if mother language starts to replace the Trinity, but that is not happening here.

But, again, knowing who we're dealing with here.... *sigh*

sam said...

And just to qualify: I'm not saying that it's good It's actually wretched. Brings up thoughts of Eucharistic Prayer C. (Ugh!) But that doesn't make it outright heretical.

Alice C. Linsley said...

The Episcopal Church walks apart by its own choice. Yet the Anglican Communion in the USA is marching forward under wonderful new bishops. Now it is time to turn from this debacle and begin to work for the establishment of a strong Anglican orthodoxy.

God bless all of you who have fought, argued, debated, corrected, borne criticism, slander, libel and threats. I will continue to pray for Anglicans. Please pray for me and for all Orthodox and all Roman Catholics. The battle is waged on many fronts.

Padre Wayne said...

I'm hysterical with laughter over how far y'all are willing to go to find fault, heresy, heterodoxy, and -- what... left-wing, p.c., unitarianism? I agree with diezba above: "Let's not get carried away in gawking at the reappraisers." I mean...some of the comments above are just so downright silly! Fr. Hart, you really do get carried away..."idolotry"?!? "demonically inspired"?!?

Now I might accept comments about the meter, the poetry of it all -- and I would suggest that it's pretty lame stuff. Certainly not the ringing tunes of earlier hymnals nor even some of the best of 1982.

But...I'm willing to be flexible.

Kevin said...

But...I'm willing to be flexible

Oh how gracious of you, I'm sure that warms the heart to know that. After all we really need your approval ...

Actually Padre Wayne, it's very close to a Wiccan prayer, maybe it speaks better of you than it does me. Those doors were open back in my teenage youth, even trained a bit by a teacher at a local high school. So Fr. Hart is not far at all. I'm sorry if this takes away a bit of your innocence but this is not "Juliana of Norwich"

Anonymous said...

This is so sad...

Fr Robert Hart is right... idolatry... with maybe a dash of wicca.

TEC is running from its roots and the woman(Schori)is leading the way.

Anonymous said...

Just make sure that somebody posts one of those hymn books to Nigeria. And a copy to Lambeth palace. Just in case they don't read the blogs, and need further convincing.

1662 BCP said...

The philosopher Richard Weaver once said that "ideas have consequences". The Scriptues we read from in Church, the prayers we pray, as well as the hymns we sing publicly proclaim what we profess to believe. Goethe once said "I laughed because it hurt too much to cry". Need I say more?

Scott said...

Way to manufacture an issue about which to bleat. Now you're taking longstanding hymn texts and gasping loudly? Are these the only songs in the bishops' songbook? These are texts that add to, not replace, the ones of which you approve. Excuse them for also singing texts that have some other, rather ancient, Christian metaphors. Sheesh.

Kevin said...

"Now you're taking longstanding hymn texts and gasping loudly?"

Longstanding -- Mark Tooley's article dated 3/27/2001 about United Methodist hymnal supplement he Faith We Sing? Hmmm, you and I have a very different prospective on 'longstanding.' I guess that's probably why seventies feminist language doesn't bother you ... we've already discussed this, but us Gen "X-ers" are not that impressed by Boomers innovations, No Form "C" is not a way to appeal to be 'cool' unless you the age of Sagan (RIP).

Kevin said...

Can I recommend Highstreet Hymns if you're looking for contemporary music (classic words modern format) {Actually I don't like 1/2 of them but love the other 1/2 - maybe it'll inspire other aspiring musicians to arrange afresh these timeless pieces})

SanderD said...

I am utterly at a loss here to explain the objections to the second hymn other than the fact that it is not the Draper translation to which some are accustomed. This translation is, in fact, FAR closer to the "Canticle of the Creatures" by St. Francis of Assissi, upon which the hymn is based. ( Brother Sun, Sister Moon, and Mother Earth each are part of Francis' lyrics. They are not, of course, being held up for worship, but rather -- in the tradition of the canticle Benedicite Omnia Opera (the Song of the Three Young Men) -- they are being invited to sing their praises to God with the rest of creation. There just simply are not words to respond adequately to those who would jump on this hymn translation for heterodoxy without bothering to investigate the fact that it is far closer to the Franciscan lyrics -- which use Brother, Sister and Mother repeatedly to personify the various aspects of God's creation -- than the rather poor Draper paraphrase that has been in our hymnals for years.

As for "Mothering God," what can one say? The word "mothering" is, of course, an adjective, not a name (ie, Mother) and as such is hardly different than Jesus comparing God to a Mother hen. If the writings of Julian of Norwich -- of which this hymn is a decent summary -- are not enough, I would hope that the Gospels themselves are.

Anonymous said...

Poor Sanderd, you are easily folled for both are a long cry from either St. Francis of Assissi or Julian of Norwich. I'd suggest going back and rereading the richness of the original texts. These are both a far cry, and the hymnology on "Canticle of the Creatures" is not accurate.

Ruth Gledhill said...

Hi, apparently in the opening eucharist there was another offering from the songbook, something like: 'we are all here with a sweet expression on our face... we are all safe'. Do you happen to have that one there? Ruth

BabyBlue said...

Stay tuned ...


Anonymous said...

You do realize that these songs are based on writings from St. Francis of Assisi and Juliana of Norwich. You know...two sainte of the church. Heard of them?

BabyBlue said...

Anon - did you just sit down at the table? As we've been discussing, "based" is a loose term, especially when it comes to these "hymns." Actually, based is a good way to put it. They are based on Francis and Julien - but that's as far as it goes. It's in fact, where they go that has caused the stir.


Anonymous said...

"[Christ] Our natural mother, our gracious mother, because he willed to become our mother in everything, took the ground for his work most humbly and most mildly in the maiden's womb…. Our high God, the sovereign wisdom of all, arrayed himself in this low place and made himself entirely ready in our poor flesh in order to do the service and the office of motherhood himself in all things.

... A mother can give her child milk to suck, but our precious mother, Jesus, can feed us with himself. He does so most courteously and most tenderly, with the Blessed Sacrament, which is the precious food of true life. With all the sweet sacraments he sustains us most mercifully and graciously. That is what he meant in these blessed words, where he said, 'I am that which holy Church preaches and teaches you,' that is to say, 'All the health and life of the sacraments, all the virtue and grace of my word, all the goodness that is ordained for you in holy Church, that I am.'

Thus our mother, Christ, in whom our parts are kept unseparated, works in us in various ways. For in our mother, Christ, we profit and increase, and in mercy he reforms and restores us, and by virtue of his passion, death, and resurrection joins us to our substance. This is how our mother, Christ, works in mercy in all his beloved children who are submissive and obedient to him...

Our substance is whole in each person of the Trinity, which is one God. Our sensuality is only in the Second Person, Christ Jesus, in whom are the Father and the Holy Spirit. In him and by him we are powerfully taken out of hell, and out of the wretchedness on earth, and are gloriously brought up into heaven and blissfully joined to our substance, increased in richness and nobility by all the virtue of Christ and by the grace and working of the Holy Spirit."

"To motherhood as properties belong natural love, wisdom and knowledge - and this is God. For though it is true that our bodily bringing forth is very little, low, and simple compared to our spiritual bringing forth, yet it is he who does the mothering in the creatures by whom it is done.

The natural loving mother, who recognises and knows the need of her child, takes care of it most tenderly, as the nature and condition of motherhood will do. And continually, as the child grows in age and size, she changes what she does, but not her love. When the child has grown older, she allows it to be punished, breaking down vices to enable the child to receive virtues and grace.

This work, with all that is fair and good, our Lord does in those by whom it is done. Thus he is our mother in nature, by the working of grace in the lower part of love for the higher. And he wills that we know it, for he wills to have all our love fastened to him.

In this I saw that all the debts we owe, by God's command, to fatherhood and motherhood by reason of God's fatherhood and motherhood, are repaid in the true loving of God. This blessed love Christ works in us. And this was showed in everything, especially in the noble, plenteous words, where he says, 'I am what you love.'"

Julian of Norwich quotations

Shocking. What paganism... THIS should be causing a stir...

Anonymous said...

HOB Hymn:
All creatures of the our God, sing praise, with thankful hearts your voices raise O sing praises! Alleluia! O Brother Sun with golden beam,

Canticle of Brother Sun:
Be praised, my Lord, through all your creatures, especially through my lord Brother Sun

HOB Hymn:
O Sister Moon with silver gleam!

Canticle of Brother Sun:
Be praised, my Lord, through Sister Moon and the stars; in the heavens you have made them, precious and beautiful.

Dear Mother Earth, who day by day unfolds our blessings on our way O sing praises! Alleluia! The flow'rs and fruit that in you grow,
let them God's glory also show!

Be praised, my Lord, through our sister Mother Earth, who feeds us and rules us, and produces various fruits with colored flowers and herbs.

Canticle of the Sun

Eeek! The St Francis canticle in the original calls the Sun "messor " which is the name of a Roman pagan god of agriculture. He's trying to get us to worship pagan gods secretly. He shouldn't be a saint! He must be excommunicated. What paganism! What heresy!

Anonymous said...

Baby Blue, your comments about the hymns used at the HOB meeting display nothing so much as your own profound ignorance - and, by extension, that of your fellow schmismatics.

The Eucharistic hymn is taken almost verbatim from St. Francis of Assisi's Canticle of the Sun. You know ... the same St. Francis of Assisi who is commemorated in Lessser Feasts and Fasts with an October 4 feast day. Most Episcopalians will be celebrating the feast of St. Francis on Sunday October 7.

The hymn Mothering God takes its maternal concepts from the writings of Julian of Norwich (as well as some of the Fathers of the Church). You know ... the same Julian of Norwich who is commemorated in Lesser Feasts and Fasts with a May 8 feast day.

But you wouldn't know that, would you? You are ignorant of the traditions and worship of your own church, not to mention those of Christianity. You are so profoundly out of touch with your own professed religious tradition that you don't even recognize historically accepted elements of the Christian tradition when you see them.

I wouldn't recommend quitting your day job, baby. But you might spend your spare time learning more about the Christianity that you profess so rabidly to defend rather than displaying your ignorance for all to see.

Good luck with that,
Clare in TEC

Anonymous said...

Ruth Gledhill, are you really so ignorant about these hymns? I would say I'm shocked at these moronic comments but alas, I'm not. Might be a good idea for you folks to understand the sweet, sweet Spirit and how it heals and makes us whole. Or you can remain hateful.

There’s a sweet, sweet Spirit in this place
And I know that it’s the Spirit of the Lord
There are sweet expressions on each face
And I know they feel the presence of the Lord

Sweet Holy Spirit... sweet heavenly dove...
Stay right here with us
Filling us with Your love

And for these blessings
We lift our hearts in praise
Without a doubt we know
That we’ll have been revived
When we shall leave this place

BTW Babyblue, I expect better from you.

Anonymous said...

So now these McCarthyesque witchhunts by the CANAnite Doctrine Police are tossing out the great medieval saints of the church??? Wow! No one is pure enough.

LOL. You just can't make this stuff up. "Little Britain" should be this funny.

BabyBlue said...

I'll check with Mother Earth and get back to you.