The Christian hymn test!

The Christian Rock critics gave you a test - carefully prepared to try to get you to agree with them that all Christian rock is bad. I would like to offer them - and you - a Christian hymn test!

Question 1

Does a melody written by the man described below belong in the church????

Who is this despicable tyrant? David Koresh? Adolph Hitler? Pol Pot? Saddam Hussein? I will tell you in a minute! Interestingly, in spite of his violent nature, he had the hypocritical audacity to write a love song! It is a pretty love song, but WHO could possibly justify using the melody for anything of GOD! Certainly the man's actions corrupt the music as well as the lyrics - and it has NO PLACE in God's Holy House!!! Right?

Congratulations, you have just erased the popular Christmas carol "What Child is This?" from hymnals!

The man was King Henry the VIII of England, and his song was "Greensleeves". In 1865, William Chatterton Dix wrote the lyrics to "What Child is This" to fit the melody. Both sets of lyrics are reproduced below:

Greensleeves What Child is This?

Alas my love you do me wrong
To cast me off discourteously;
And I have loved you oh so long
Delighting in your company.

Greensleeves was my delight,
Greensleeves my heart of gold
Greensleeves was my heart of joy
And who but my Lady Greensleeves.

I have been ready at your hand
To grant whatever thou would'st crave;
I have waged both life and land
Your love and goodwill for to have.

Greensleeves was my delight,
Greensleeves was my heart of gold
Greensleeves was my heart of joy
And who but my Lady Greensleeves.

Thy petticoat of sendle white
With gold embroidered gorgeously;
Thy petticoat of silk and white
And these I bought thee gladly.

Greensleeves was my delight,
Greensleeves my heart of gold
Greensleeves was my heart of joy
And who but my Lady Greensleeves.

What child is this who, laid to rest
On Mary's lap is sleeping?
Whom angels greet with anthems sweet,
While shepherds watch are keeping?

Refrain

This, this is Christ the King,
Whom shepherds guard and angels sing;
Haste, haste, to bring Him laud,
The babe, the son of Mary.

Why lies He in such mean estate,
Where ox and ass are feeding?
Good Christians, fear, for sinners here
The silent Word is pleading.

Refrain

So bring Him incense, gold and myrrh,
Come peasant, king to own Him;
The King of kings salvation brings,
Let loving hearts enthrone Him.

Refrain

Question 2

Does a song written by the man described below belong in the church????

He was a slave trader, which means:

It is obvious we ought to get anything written by this man OUT OF THE CHURCH IMMEDIATELY!!!! Right?!

Congratulations! You just erased the most beloved hymn of all time - Amazing Grace - from the hymnal! This is the real background of John Newton, the author. Of course, I neglected to tell you that he went on to become a Christian and a minister for 43 years. But then, I did that to make the point that our critics are leaving out a lot of details, too. Like Amy Grant's "El Shaddai" and "Thy Word", two of the most loved and universally accepted hymns written in the last quarter century!

Amazing Grace

Copyright by Ralph F. Wilson, used by permission, all rights reserved

I used to think America's favorite hymn, "Amazing Grace," was a bit overdone: "... that saved a wretch like me." Really now!

But the author was a wretch, a moral pariah. While a new believer around 1750, John Newton had commanded a English slave ship.

You know what that meant. Ships would make the first leg of their voyage from England nearly empty until they would anchor off the African coast. There tribal chiefs would deliver to the Europeans stockades full of men and women, captured in raids and wars against other tribes. Buyers would select the finest specimens, which would be bartered for weapons, ammunition, metal, liquor, trinkets, and cloth. Then the captives would be loaded aboard, packed for sailing. They were chained below decks to prevent suicides, laid side by side to save space, row after row, one after another, until the vessel was laden with as many as 600 units of human cargo.

Captains sought a fast voyage across the Atlantic's infamous "middle passage," hoping to preserve as much as their cargo as possible, yet mortality sometimes ran 20% or higher. When an outbreak of smallpox or dysentery occurred, the stricken were cast overboard. Once they arrived in the New World, blacks were traded for sugar and molasses to manufacture rum, which the ships would carry to England for the final leg of their "triangle trade." Then off to Africa for yet another round. John Newton transported more than a few shiploads of the 6 million African slaves brought to the Americas in the 18th century.

At sea by the age of eleven, he was forced to enlist on a British man-of-war seven years later. Recaptured after desertion, the disgraced sailor was exchanged to the crew of a slave ship bound for Africa.

It was a book he found on board--Thomas Kempis' Imitation of Christ--which sowed the seeds of his conversion. When a ship nearly foundered in a storm, he gave his life to Christ. Later he was promoted to captain of a slave ship. Commanding a slave vessel seems like a strange place to find a new Christian. But at last the inhuman aspects of the business began to pall on him, and he left the sea for good.

While working as a tide surveyor he studied for the ministry, and for the last 43 years of his life preached the gospel in Olney and London. At 82, Newton said, "My memory is nearly gone, but I remember two things, that I am a great sinner, and that Christ is a great Saviour." No wonder he understood so well grace--the completely undeserved mercy and favor of God.

Newton's tombstone reads, "John Newton, Clerk, once an infidel and libertine, a servant of slaves in Africa, was, by the rich mercy of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, preserved, restored, pardoned, and appointed to preach the faith he had long labored to destroy." But a far greater testimony outlives Newton in the most famous of the hundreds of hymns he wrote:


Amazing grace, how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me,
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.

'Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved.
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed.

Through many dangers, toils and snares,
I have already come.
'Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.

The Lord has promised good to me,
His Word my hope secures;
He will my shield and portion be,
As long as life endures.

Yea, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease,
I shall possess, within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.

When we've been there ten thousand years,
Bright shining as the sun,
We've no less days to sing God's praise
Than when we'd first begun.

The original essay is at: http://www.accessone.com/~rwadams/h/hailtheg.htm

Question 3

Do the lyrics and melody of a hymn by the man described below belong in the church????

You know the routine by now, this is a trick question again! In this case, the hymn is not as well known - Hail the Glorious Golden City, by Felix Adler, 1878. This hymn first appeared in the Pilgrim Hymnal in 1904.

Here are the lyrics:


Hail the glorious golden city, pictured by the seers of old!
Everlasting light shines o'er it, wondrous tales of it are told:
Only righteous men and women dwell within its gleaming wall;
Wrong is banished from its borders, justice reigns supreme o'er all.

We are builders of that city, all our joys and all our groans
Help to rear its shining ramparts; all our lives are building stones:
Whether humble or exalted, all are called to ask divine;
All must aid alike to carry forward one sublime design.

And the work that we have builded, oft with bleeding hands and tears,
Oft in error, oft in anguish, will not perish with our years:
It will live and shine transfigured, in the final reign of right;
It will pass into the splendors of the city of the light.

Question 4

This one is for my late mother - who left her church choir over this very point!!! Thanks mother -----

There is a wonderful old hymn that contains the phrase "Glory to God in the HIGHEST". Many churches and recording artists purposely garble the phase "Glory to God in the HIGHEST" and make it into "Glory to God in the CHIGHEST". "WHAT???" you are asking yourself! I have never heard of this!!! What are these choirs and singers DOING?! This is an abomination!!! Why garble the meaning of "HIGHEST"? What in the world does "CHIGHEST" mean?! The church choir directors and singers simply shrug their shoulders and say they are being "traditional". The "CH" is right because they SAY it is right. UN-holy! Un-Godly!

Well, I have to confess something here. I slightly distorted the facts, but not nearly so much as the Christian rock critics have on occasion. The hymn I am talking about is the Christmas carol "Angel We Have Heard on High". This carol contains a Latin section:


Glo-o-o-o-o-o--o-o-o-o-o--o-o-o-o-oria!
In excelsis Deo

This is Latin for "Glory to God in the highest". Latin is a funny lanugage. Everybody says it is dead, but they turn around and use words from it every day. It doesn't take a Latin scholar to know that when someone "excels" it means they are performing at a high level. I am frankly surprised that in these days of Microsoft software domination that anybody would have trouble pronouncing the word "excel" (the Microsoft spreadsheet program). Yet church choirs and performers continue to pronounce the "excelsis" with a "CH" sound: "EXCHELSIS". This makes UTTER NONSENSE of the Latin phrase "Gloria in excelsis Deo" or "Glory to God in the highest". WHY would anybody want to do that???? Do a lot of people have a problem with exalting God and want to garble the meaning of "excelsis"?

In the nearly three years since I first wrote this essay - this particular portion has been the second most controversial part of all the essays - right after my comments about David Wilkerson. I have had church choir directors and Latin scholars contact me, some of them very angry!!! The most common comments are:

In Conclusion

It is obvious that the questions are carefully worded to manipulate you. Unlike our opponents, however, I am NOT into manipulating people to agree with my point of view. Their test is manipulation of the most deceptive kind!

Apologetics Index | Email Me