\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nDisclaimer: Beliefnet loves sacred music, and recognizes that writing it--combining music, lines from scripture, and theology to create a memorable hymn--isn't an easy job. Still, we think George Weigel has a point: some hymns contain questionable theology. So with all due respect to poetic license, and with apologies for taking lines out of context, we offer the following sampler of hymns that have lost their way (or were simply too annoying to escape mention). Vote on each song to let us know what works for you--and what doesn't.\r\n\r\n\r\n

\r\n\r\n\r\nOnce to Every Man and Nation
\r\n\r\nBy James Lowell
\r\n
\r\n\r\nOnce to every man and nation,
\r\nComes the moment to decide,
\r\nIn the strife of truth with falsehood,
\r\nFor the good or evil side;
\r\nSome great cause, God's new messiah,
\r\nOffering each the bloom or blight...
\r\n\r\n
\r\nNew occasions teach new duties,
\r\ntime makes ancient good uncouth,
\r\nThey must upward still and onward,\r\n
who would keep abreast of truth.
\r\n

\r\nBad theology alert: Seems to endorse relativism; idea of absolute truth undermined. Plus, since when is a cause, even a righteous one, \"God's new Messiah\"? And does the opportunity to choose the good come only \"once\"? No wonder this hymn, originally a protest song about the Mexican-American war, was booted from the Episcopal hymnal in 1982 (on the plus side, different lyrics were written so the church could keep singing the stirring tune).

\r\n\r\n\t\t\t
\r\n\t\t\t\tWhat do you think of
\"Once to Every Man and Nation\"?
\r\n\t\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\t
\r\n\r\n\t\t\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\t\t\r\n\r\n\t\t\t\t\tThumbs up\r\n\t\t\t\t\tThumbs down \r\n\r\n\t\t\t\t\t \r\n\t\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\\r\n\t\t\t\t\t\tView Results\r\n\t\t\t\t\t
\r\n\t\t\t\t
\r\n\t\t\t

\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n

\r\n\r\nOnward, Christian Soldiers
\r\nBy Sabine Baring-Gould\r\n\r\nOnward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war,
\r\nWith the cross of Jesus going on before.
\r\nChrist, the royal Master, leads against the foe;
\r\nForward into battle see His banners go!
\r\n

\r\nProblem: Though subsequent verses make it clear that the \"battle\" is against sin and the devil, some Christians feel uncomfortable with this hymn's martial tone.

\r\n\r\n\t\t\t
\r\n\t\t\t\tWhat do you think of
\"Onward, Christian Soldiers\"?
\r\n\t\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\t
\r\n\r\n\t\t\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\t\t\r\n\r\n\t\t\t\t\tThumbs up\r\n\t\t\t\t\tThumbs down \r\n\r\n\t\t\t\t\t \r\n\t\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\\r\n\t\t\t\t\t\tView Results\r\n\t\t\t\t\t
\r\n\t\t\t\t
\r\n\t\t\t

\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n

\r\n\r\n\r\nThe Aye Carol
\r\n By John Bell\r\n\r\nWho is the man who looks on at the door,
\r\nWelcoming strangers, some rich but most poor,
\r\nScanning the world as if somehow unsure?
\r\nJoseph, the father of Jesus.


\r\n\r\nBad theology alert: According to Christian doctrine, God is the father of Jesus. Joseph is sometimes called Jesus' \"foster father.\"

\r\n\r\n\t\t\t
\r\n\t\t\t\tWhat do you think of
\"The Aye Carol\"?
\r\n\t\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\t
\r\n\r\n\t\t\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\t\t\r\n\r\n\t\t\t\t\tThumbs up\r\n\t\t\t\t\tThumbs down \r\n\r\n\t\t\t\t\t \r\n\t\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\\r\n\t\t\t\t\t\tView Results\r\n\t\t\t\t\t
\r\n\t\t\t\t
\r\n\t\t\t

\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n

\r\n\r\n\r\nEarth and All Stars
\r\nBy Herbert F. Brokering \r\n\r\n\r\nClassrooms and labs,
\r\nLoud boiling test tubes
\r\nSing to the Lord a new song!
\r\nAthletes and band,
\r\nLoud cheering people
\r\nSing to the Lord a new song!
\r\n
\r\n\r\nProblem: Yes, we should be able to find God in all creation, but \"loud boiling test tubes\" is just dopey.

\r\n\r\n\t\t\t
\r\n\t\t\t\tWhat do you think of
\"Earth and All Stars\"?
\r\n\t\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\t
\r\n\r\n\t\t\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\t\t\r\n\r\n\t\t\t\t\tThumbs up\r\n\t\t\t\t\tThumbs down \r\n\r\n\t\t\t\t\t \r\n\t\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\\r\n\t\t\t\t\t\tView Results\r\n\t\t\t\t\t
\r\n\t\t\t\t
\r\n\t\t\t

\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n

\r\n\r\n\r\nThose Who Love and Those Who Labor\r\n
By Geoffrey Dearmer
\r\n
\r\n\r\nJesus says to those who seek him,
\r\nI will never pass you by:
\r\nRaise the stone and you shall find me
\r\nCleave the wood, and there am I.
\r\n
\r\nThe prince of common welfare
\r\nDwells within the market strife...
\r\n
\r\nLet the seeker never falter
\r\nTill the truth is found afar
\r\nWith the wisdom of the ages
\r\nUnderneath a giant star.
\r\n\r\n

Bad theology trifecta: First, the \"raise the stone/cleave the wood\" line is straight out of the Gospel of Thomas, a noncanonical Gnostic text. Second, \"the prince of common welfare [dwelling] within the market strife\" sounds like a Jesus out of Marx's \"Das Kapital.\" Finally, what \"giant star\" are we talking about--the sun? The Star of Bethlehem? What's going on?

\r\n\r\n\t\t\t

\r\n\t\t\t\tWhat do you think of
\"Those Who Love and Those Who Labor\"?
\r\n\t\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\t
\r\n\r\n\t\t\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\t\t\r\n\r\n\t\t\t\t\tThumbs up\r\n\t\t\t\t\tThumbs down \r\n\r\n\t\t\t\t\t \r\n\t\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\\r\n\t\t\t\t\t\tView Results\r\n\t\t\t\t\t
\r\n\t\t\t\t
\r\n\t\t\t

\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n

\r\nThis Bread That We Share
\r\nBy Dominic MacAller\r\n\tThis bread that we share is the body of Christ,
\r\n\tthis cup of blessing his blood.\t...
\r\n\tWhen we love one another as Christ has loved us,
\r\n\r\n\twe become God's daughters and sons.\t
\r\n\tWe become for each other the bread, the cup,\t
\r\n\tthe presence of Christ revealed.
\r\n\r\n\r\nProblem: An Episcopal minister we polled takes issue with this hymn's \"absolutely awful theology...Christ is to be identified with the bread and the wine, not us.\"

\r\n\r\n\t\t\t
\r\n\t\t\t\tWhat do you think of
\"This Bread That We Share\"?
\r\n\t\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\t
\r\n\r\n\t\t\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\t\t\r\n\r\n\t\t\t\t\tThumbs up\r\n\t\t\t\t\tThumbs down \r\n\r\n\t\t\t\t\t \r\n\t\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\\r\n\t\t\t\t\t\tView Results\r\n\t\t\t\t\t
\r\n\t\t\t\t
\r\n\t\t\t

\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n

\r\n\r\nGather Us In
\r\nBy Marty Haugen

\r\n\r\nNot in the dark of buildings confining
\r\nNot in some heaven,
light years away,
\r\nBut here in this place, the new light is shining,
\r\nNow is the Kingdom, now is the day...
\r\n
\r\nProblem: This verse from a popular Catholic song could be interpreted as dissing church buildings--and even the afterlife.

\r\n\r\n\t\t\t
\r\n\t\t\t\tWhat do you think of
\"Gather Us In\"?
\r\n\t\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\t
\r\n\r\n\t\t\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\t\t\r\n\r\n\t\t\t\t\tThumbs up\r\n\t\t\t\t\tThumbs down \r\n\r\n\t\t\t\t\t \r\n\t\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\\r\n\t\t\t\t\t\tView Results\r\n\t\t\t\t\t
\r\n\t\t\t\t
\r\n\t\t\t

\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n

\r\nNow Join We to Praise the Creator
\r\nBy Fred Kaan\r\n\r\nWe thank you, O God, for your goodness
\r\nFor the joy and abundance of crops
\r\nFor food that is stored in our larders
\t\r\nFor all we can buy in the shops.
\r\n\r\nProblem: Starts out as a nice harvest-themed verse, appropriate, perhaps, for Thanksgiving; but ends with a thud in its paean to malls.

\r\n\r\n\t\t\t
\r\n\t\t\t\tWhat do you think of
\"Now Join We to Praise the Creator\"?
\r\n\t\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\t
\r\n\r\n\t\t\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\t\t\r\n\r\n\t\t\t\t\tThumbs up\r\n\t\t\t\t\tThumbs down \r\n\r\n\t\t\t\t\t \r\n\t\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\\r\n\t\t\t\t\t\tView Results\r\n\t\t\t\t\t
\r\n\t\t\t\t
\r\n\t\t\t

\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n

\r\nFrom Greenland's Icy Mountains
\r\nBy Reginald Heber
\r\n
\r\n\r\nIn vain with lavish kindness
\r\n the gifts of God are strown;
\r\nthe heathen in his blindness
\r\n bows down to wood and stone!\r\n
\r\nCan we, whose souls are lighted
with wisdom from on high,
\r\ncan we to those benighted
the lamp of life deny?\r\n\r\n

\r\n\r\nProblem: Ugh. Luckily, this patronizing British Empire clunker lives on only in dusty hymnals.

\r\n\r\n\t\t\t

\r\n\t\t\t\tWhat do you think of
\"From Greenland's Icy Mountains\"?
\r\n\t\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\t
\r\n\r\n\t\t\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\t\t\r\n\r\n\t\t\t\t\tThumbs up\r\n\t\t\t\t\tThumbs down \r\n\r\n\t\t\t\t\t \r\n\t\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\\r\n\t\t\t\t\t\tView Results\r\n\t\t\t\t\t
\r\n\t\t\t\t
\r\n\t\t\t

\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n

\r\nRemember All the People
\r\nBy Percy Dearmer\r\n\r\n\r\nSome work in sultry forests
\r\nWhere apes swing to and fro,\r\n
Some fish in mighty rivers,\r\n
Some hunt across the snow.\r\n
Remember all God's children...
\r\n
\r\n
\r\nProblem: As a whole, this hymn doesn't even approach the colonial condescension of \"From Greenland's Icy Mountains\" (above). But we just can't get past the swinging apes line.

\r\n\r\n\t\t\t
\r\n\t\t\t\tWhat do you think of
\"Remember All the People\"?
\r\n\t\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\t
\r\n\r\n\t\t\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\t\t\r\n\r\n\t\t\t\t\tThumbs up\r\n\t\t\t\t\tThumbs down \r\n\r\n\t\t\t\t\t \r\n\t\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\\r\n\t\t\t\t\t\tView Results\r\n\t\t\t\t\t
\r\n\t\t\t\t
\r\n\t\t\t

\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n

\r\nBread of Life
\r\nBy Rory Cooney\r\n\tI myself am the bread of life
\r\n\tyou and I are the bread of life\t
\r\n\ttaken and blessed, broken and shared\r\n\tby Christ
\r\n\tthat the world may live.

\r\nBad theology alert: The first \"I\" seems to refer to Christ, while the second \"I\" refers to the singer. It's a bit too close to a Messiah complex for our taste, especially given that Christ appears as a third person just a few words later.\r\nThough Paul's epistle makes it clear that believers make up the body of Christ, it seems like a theologically questionable leap to identify individual Christians as the bread of life.

\r\n\r\n\t\t\t

\r\n\t\t\t\tWhat do you think of
\"Bread of Life\"?
\r\n\t\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\t
\r\n\r\n\t\t\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\t\t\r\n\r\n\t\t\t\t\tThumbs up\r\n\t\t\t\t\tThumbs down \r\n\r\n\t\t\t\t\t \r\n\t\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\\r\n\t\t\t\t\t\tView Results\r\n\t\t\t\t\t
\r\n\t\t\t\t
\r\n\t\t\t

\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n

\r\nFor the Healing of the Nations
\r\n By Fred Kaan

\r\n\r\nAll that kills abundant living,
\r\nlet it from the earth be banned...\r\n
dogmas that obscure your plan.
\r\n\r\nProblem: We could see this hymn working in a UU church, but should a song in a Roman Catholic hymnal really be slamming dogma? Where does this leave Sunday School teachers?

\r\n\r\n\t\t\t
\r\n\t\t\t\tWhat do you think of
\"For the Healing of the Nations\"?
\r\n\t\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\t
\r\n\r\n\t\t\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\t\t\r\n\r\n\t\t\t\t\tThumbs up\r\n\t\t\t\t\tThumbs down \r\n\r\n\t\t\t\t\t \r\n\t\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\\r\n\t\t\t\t\t\tView Results\r\n\t\t\t\t\t
\r\n\t\t\t\t
\r\n\t\t\t

\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n

\r\nAnthem
\r\nBy Tom Conry\r\n\r\n\r\n\tWe are called, we are chosen.
\r\n\tWe are Christ for one another.\t...\t
\r\n\tWe are harvest, we are hunger.\t
\r\n\tWe are question, we are creed.
\r\n\r\nProblem: If human beings are a creed, we're all in trouble.

\r\n\r\n\t\t\t
\r\n\t\t\t\tWhat do you think of \"Anthem\"?\r\n\t\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\t
\r\n\r\n\t\t\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\t\t\r\n\r\n\t\t\t\t\tThumbs up\r\n\t\t\t\t\tThumbs down \r\n\r\n\t\t\t\t\t \r\n\t\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\\r\n\t\t\t\t\t\tView Results\r\n\t\t\t\t\t
\r\n\t\t\t\t
\r\n\t\t\t

\r\n\r\n","articleSection":null,"dateModified":"2020-10-01T15:07:37Z","description":"The good, the bad, and the cloying.","headline":"Heretical Hymns? Problematic lyrics from sacred Christian songs","thumbnailUrl":null,"inLanguage":"en","datePublished":"2016-03-08T15:33:14Z","author":{"@type":"Person","name":null,"url":null,"image":null},"image":[],"mainEntityOfPage":{"@type":"WebPage","url":"https://www.beliefnet.com/entertainment/music/2004/02/sacred-songs-gone-wrong-you-decide.aspx","dateModified":"2020-10-01T15:07:37Z","inLanguage":"en","name":"Heretical Hymns? Problematic lyrics from sacred Christian songs","headline":"Heretical Hymns? Problematic lyrics from sacred Christian songs","description":"The good, the bad, and the cloying.","datePublished":"2016-03-08T15:33:14Z"}}
2020-10-01
Disclaimer: Beliefnet loves sacred music, and recognizes that writing it--combining music, lines from scripture, and theology to create a memorable hymn--isn't an easy job. Still, we think George Weigel has a point: some hymns contain questionable theology. So with all due respect to poetic license, and with apologies for taking lines out of context, we offer the following sampler of hymns that have lost their way (or were simply too annoying to escape mention). Vote on each song to let us know what works for you--and what doesn't.

Once to Every Man and Nation
By James Lowell

Once to every man and nation,
Comes the moment to decide,
In the strife of truth with falsehood,
For the good or evil side;
Some great cause, God's new messiah,
Offering each the bloom or blight...

New occasions teach new duties,
time makes ancient good uncouth,
They must upward still and onward,
who would keep abreast of truth.


Bad theology alert: Seems to endorse relativism; idea of absolute truth undermined. Plus, since when is a cause, even a righteous one, "God's new Messiah"? And does the opportunity to choose the good come only "once"? No wonder this hymn, originally a protest song about the Mexican-American war, was booted from the Episcopal hymnal in 1982 (on the plus side, different lyrics were written so the church could keep singing the stirring tune).

What do you think of
"Once to Every Man and Nation"?
Thumbs up Thumbs down vote View Results


Onward, Christian Soldiers
By Sabine Baring-Gould Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war,
With the cross of Jesus going on before.
Christ, the royal Master, leads against the foe;
Forward into battle see His banners go!


Problem: Though subsequent verses make it clear that the "battle" is against sin and the devil, some Christians feel uncomfortable with this hymn's martial tone.

What do you think of
"Onward, Christian Soldiers"?
Thumbs up Thumbs down vote View Results


The Aye Carol
By John Bell Who is the man who looks on at the door,
Welcoming strangers, some rich but most poor,
Scanning the world as if somehow unsure?
Joseph, the father of Jesus.


Bad theology alert: According to Christian doctrine, God is the father of Jesus. Joseph is sometimes called Jesus' "foster father."

What do you think of
"The Aye Carol"?
Thumbs up Thumbs down vote View Results


Earth and All Stars
By Herbert F. Brokering Classrooms and labs,
Loud boiling test tubes
Sing to the Lord a new song!
Athletes and band,
Loud cheering people
Sing to the Lord a new song!

Problem: Yes, we should be able to find God in all creation, but "loud boiling test tubes" is just dopey.

What do you think of
"Earth and All Stars"?
Thumbs up Thumbs down vote View Results


Those Who Love and Those Who Labor
By Geoffrey Dearmer

Jesus says to those who seek him,
I will never pass you by:
Raise the stone and you shall find me
Cleave the wood, and there am I.

The prince of common welfare
Dwells within the market strife...

Let the seeker never falter
Till the truth is found afar
With the wisdom of the ages
Underneath a giant star.

Bad theology trifecta: First, the "raise the stone/cleave the wood" line is straight out of the Gospel of Thomas, a noncanonical Gnostic text. Second, "the prince of common welfare [dwelling] within the market strife" sounds like a Jesus out of Marx's "Das Kapital." Finally, what "giant star" are we talking about--the sun? The Star of Bethlehem? What's going on?

What do you think of
"Those Who Love and Those Who Labor"?
Thumbs up Thumbs down vote View Results


This Bread That We Share
By Dominic MacAller This bread that we share is the body of Christ,
this cup of blessing his blood. ...
When we love one another as Christ has loved us,
we become God's daughters and sons.
We become for each other the bread, the cup,
the presence of Christ revealed.
Problem: An Episcopal minister we polled takes issue with this hymn's "absolutely awful theology...Christ is to be identified with the bread and the wine, not us."

What do you think of
"This Bread That We Share"?
Thumbs up Thumbs down vote View Results


Gather Us In
By Marty Haugen

Not in the dark of buildings confining
Not in some heaven,
light years away,
But here in this place, the new light is shining,
Now is the Kingdom, now is the day...

Problem: This verse from a popular Catholic song could be interpreted as dissing church buildings--and even the afterlife.

What do you think of
"Gather Us In"?
Thumbs up Thumbs down vote View Results


Now Join We to Praise the Creator
By Fred Kaan We thank you, O God, for your goodness
For the joy and abundance of crops
For food that is stored in our larders
For all we can buy in the shops.
Problem: Starts out as a nice harvest-themed verse, appropriate, perhaps, for Thanksgiving; but ends with a thud in its paean to malls.

What do you think of
"Now Join We to Praise the Creator"?
Thumbs up Thumbs down vote View Results


From Greenland's Icy Mountains
By Reginald Heber

In vain with lavish kindness
the gifts of God are strown;
the heathen in his blindness
bows down to wood and stone!
Can we, whose souls are lighted
with wisdom from on high,
can we to those benighted
the lamp of life deny?

Problem: Ugh. Luckily, this patronizing British Empire clunker lives on only in dusty hymnals.

What do you think of
"From Greenland's Icy Mountains"?
Thumbs up Thumbs down vote View Results


Remember All the People
By Percy Dearmer Some work in sultry forests
Where apes swing to and fro,
Some fish in mighty rivers,
Some hunt across the snow.
Remember all God's children...


Problem: As a whole, this hymn doesn't even approach the colonial condescension of "From Greenland's Icy Mountains" (above). But we just can't get past the swinging apes line.

What do you think of
"Remember All the People"?
Thumbs up Thumbs down vote View Results


Bread of Life
By Rory Cooney I myself am the bread of life
you and I are the bread of life
taken and blessed, broken and shared by Christ
that the world may live.

Bad theology alert: The first "I" seems to refer to Christ, while the second "I" refers to the singer. It's a bit too close to a Messiah complex for our taste, especially given that Christ appears as a third person just a few words later. Though Paul's epistle makes it clear that believers make up the body of Christ, it seems like a theologically questionable leap to identify individual Christians as the bread of life.

What do you think of
"Bread of Life"?
Thumbs up Thumbs down vote View Results


For the Healing of the Nations
By Fred Kaan

All that kills abundant living,
let it from the earth be banned...
dogmas that obscure your plan.
Problem: We could see this hymn working in a UU church, but should a song in a Roman Catholic hymnal really be slamming dogma? Where does this leave Sunday School teachers?

What do you think of
"For the Healing of the Nations"?
Thumbs up Thumbs down vote View Results


Anthem
By Tom Conry We are called, we are chosen.
We are Christ for one another. ...
We are harvest, we are hunger.
We are question, we are creed.
Problem: If human beings are a creed, we're all in trouble.

What do you think of "Anthem"?
Thumbs up Thumbs down vote View Results

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