Monday, April 27, 2009

The Grammarian, XIV

Today's lesson:

"This Is the Feast" is not the victim of bad grammar or shoddy theology.

Boys and girls, Rev. Lincoln Winter is absolutely right on this one, and I am pleased to throw my hat into his ring with kudos. I've been wanting to say something about this for years, and just never got around to it. Since he did it, I'll just recommend to your reading his recent post (click here). It's spot on, and expresses pretty much my exact sentiments. You can't go griping about the theology of This Is the Feast on the basis of the preposition ("of victory for [as opposed to of] our God."

What you can gripe about is its use as a replacement for the Greater Gloria, which many of our churches have provincially taken to doing, of all times, during Eastertide. Good grief, we had to observe the entire Lenten fast by omitting the Greater Gloria. Finally at the Easter vigil we get to begin regularly singing it again, and we ring the bells and let the organ rip. But some of you want to snatch it out of our mouths with "This Is the Feast."

Class, that's a hymn, not a canticle, in spite of the expressed intentions of its composer. To be sure, it's based on a canticle, viz., the Dignus Est Agnus, but that's really the nature of all hymns: they're based on something like a canticle or Biblical reference.

But as hymns go, it's not all that bad (although, truth be told, the melody is a bit sing-songy for me, in spite of my own proclivity for the melodic sound of some Anglican hymns), and, as Fr. Winter has pointed out, is theologically perfectly acceptable.

And those of you who have tried to "correct" the theology by replacing "for" with "of," are instructed to close your books at once, and go sit in the corner. Changing a few words of someone else's material to make it acceptable to you is not permitted, and is contrary to the spirit, if not the letter, of copyright laws. If you don't like something as it is, by all means don't use it, but you dasn't go twisting it to your whims. That is the very essence of "contemporary worship," and is right out.

Besides, as Fr. Winter has definitively pointed out, it turns out in this particular case that there's nothing at all wrong with the grammar or the theology.

Just don't go putting it or any other hymn where the song of the angels goes.

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