CHRIST IN WINTER: Reflections on Faith for the Years of Winter… ©
One of the frustrating things about old age, although I’m not sure this frustration is that much different from ever it was, is the inability to be timely. In this instance, Daylight Savings Timely.
This started when old friend Nina Morwell posted on Facebook the Daylight Savings Hymn, at the real most recent DST change time, written by Mary Rose Faust Jensen, and I mentioned seeing it to Mary.
I’m very proud of Mary. I was her pastor when she was just a girl, an across-the-street neighbor, Mary Faust. She became a nurse, and I was honored to officiate at her wedding to Mark. She is a thoughtful and perceptive composer of hymns. You can check them out here. http://www.gardenrosemusic.com/Hymns.htm
For fun, she wrote a little hymn to be sung the Sunday before Daylight Savings Time begins, to remind people to get to church on time. [Related joke: What comes after the Postlude at church on Daylight Savings Sunday? The people who did not set their clocks ahead.] It’s called “Darkness In Morning.” http://www.scoreexchange.com/scores/149948.html
A lot of people liked it and began to repost it in various places. For whatever reason, without mentioning it to Mary or getting her permission, some folks changed some of the words. And then on web sites and in chat rooms where people talk about hymns, some people began to criticize Mary and her song, for the words that other people had put into it!
Mary was astounded for two reasons: First, people should not change your words, especially your copyrighted words, without your permission. Isn’t it rather arrogant to claim that you know the author’s intent better than she and so it’s okay to change the words? Second, aren’t people on “Christian” web sites and in other Christian settings supposed to be at least respectful in their critiques? Apparently not so, in either case.
Having been a preacher for a very long time, I’m used to people “changing” my words, claiming I said something different from what I said. One of the most egregious examples was when Bernice became upset, to put it mildly, because I said in worship that we should not pray for her son-in-law. I had said, of course, the exact opposite. Bernice took her case to many others in the congregation. They all told her, “No, Bernice, that is not what he said.” She was never convinced.
When she finally called me and asked me why I had said not to pray for her son-in-law, I replied, “Well, Bernice, I just wanted to make you mad.” She was delighted. “I thought it was something like that,” she crowed. We were back on such good terms that she gave me the key to her house. [That key rotated among three or four of us, to be used in case of emergency, since she lived alone, but to be held only by the one at whom she was least mad at the time.]
And having been a preacher for a very long time, I’m used to people acting a whole lot less than Christian in Christian settings. Indeed, some people seem to feel that in a church, they can act much more jerkishly than they would dare to do anywhere else, apparently thinking that is one place they can get away with it since others have to act like Christians and be nice to them anyway. [In some ways, that’s a good thing that they feel like that.]
As a preacher and writer, I don’t want my words changed, even if they are not the best choices, except by editors, and then only with my agreement. I think it’s okay to “update” songs, though, especially hymns, if they are in the public domain, to make meanings clearer, for instance, changing the word “silly” in a hymn to “blessed,” since that is what silly originally meant but does not mean anymore. Most of the time it’s okay to change a “thee” or a “thou” to more modern language, or to change “men” to people, if that is clearly what it means. If a current writer, though, puts “silly” or “thee” or “men” into a hymn, leave it alone. That is her work.
I can’t even imagine how God feels, considering the regularity and audacity with which Christians and others change the divine Word and words.
Okay, I’ve gotten off the subject. I started to write about how as old people we get good ideas that are timely but then we let the time slip away until it doesn’t make sense to be sending Christmas cards in June…which reminds me…
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