Sunday, June 14, 2009

"Holy Women, Holy Men"

A lot of interest is being stirred up by this proposed doucment which will make it's way to General Convention. You may read on criticism of it here:

My own response is different.

Someone asked

"I'll ask again - what is it, for example, that merits Henry Purcell on the
proposed revision of the Calendar? Help me understand how he was an
"extraordinary, even heroic servant of God and God's people, for the sake, and
after the example of Jesus Christ" (Significance). And who has been doing
"local observance" of Purcell? It's not that I don't like Henry Purcell. I'm
simply having a difficult time trying to understand why he's on the Calendar?"

My response to the question:

I am unclear about your question and want to be sure I understand it it. I guess my first question is: What do you think is the definition of "extraordinary, even heroic servant of God and God's people, for the sake, and after the example of Jesus Christ?" And the second would be whom do you think fits that definition?

Henry Purcell had a gift for writing sacred music. He was obedient to his call and produced reams and reams of sacred music that have blessed, enriched and formed Christians for centuries. His gift and his work are both extraordinary. He has given the church a permanent gift.

I am reminded of a hymn which for the first 15 years or so that I sang it, I hated. I don't like the silly perky tune for one thing and it always seems to me that it trivialized the sentiment of the lyrics which I also found trite. For the last several years, though, I am a member of a parish which sings it every single blessed baptism and so we sing it several times a year.

As a result of this repeated exposure, I see the point of the perky tune and the silly lyrics. Together they emphasize that ordinary people doing ordinary things serve God simply by being faithful to very ordinary vocations. This hymn teaches me that extraordinary, even heroic servant of God and God's people are everywhere. This hymn teaches me that every Christian who walks the talk is a candidate for "Holy Women, Holy Men". The real issue is how to eliminate.

The hymn to which I refer, if the gentle readers have not figured it out is #293,

1. I sing a song of the saints of God,
patient and brave and true,
who toiled and fought and lived and died
for the Lord they loved and knew.
And one was a doctor, and one was a queen,
and one was a shepherdess on the green;
they were all of them saints of God, and I mean,
God helping, to be one too.

2. They loved their Lord so dear, so dear,
and his love made them strong;
and they followed the right for Jesus' sake
the whole of their good lives long.
And one was a soldier, and one was a priest,
and one was slain by a fierce wild beast;
and there's not any reason, no, not the least,
why I shouldn't be one too.

3. They lived not only in ages past;
there are hundreds of thousands still.
The world is bright with the joyous saints
who love to do Jesus' will.
You can meet them in school, on the street, in the store,
in church, by the sea, in the house next door;
they are saints of God, whether rich or poor,
and I mean to be one too.

And you can listen to it here:


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