Hymn by Hymn

STLT#310, The Earth Is Home

I don’t think I’m awake enough yet.

I’ve been puzzled by hymns before, but I’m not sure I’ve been baffled by them.

I swear, I am sitting here, having actually tried to sing this and wondering what just happened and can I get those five minutes back, please.

I know you’ve all come to expect pithy information and insight, but my experience with this hymn has wiped all of that clear out of my head and all I can do is furrow my brow and whisper softly under my breath “what the fuck….?”

Okay, so let’s get a few things clear. First, in a choral or other performative setting, I’m a fan of cacophony. (See GA2017 opening worship or GA2016 Sunday morning worship for some cacophony I love and either created or performed.) And generally, I am a fan of Ken Patton’s writing, as he often connects us to what is true within.

What I am not a fan of is even the hint of suggestion that a typical congregation could hold down an unusual melody in uneven meter while a cacophony happens around them. All while trying to get past the fact that we are singing about suckling (I should come up with a top ten weirdest phrases in our hymnals – this one would still rank lower than the cankerworm.)

Anyway, here are the lyrics:

The earth is home and all abundant, source of what was before we were,
and will be, till all life in ending, the final seed shakes in its burr.

She is our friend, our ancient mother; her fate and all her ways are ours;
each atom proves our common journey, bred as we were of dust and stars.

We suckle from the fount untiring, we children born of earth’s desiring,
for we and all our forward yearning are yet a spark in nature’s burning.

It is probably meaningful to some. It leaves me cold, filled not with awe but with ‘yeah, so…?”

And here is a sample of the tune – which was commissioned in 1973 by Trinity Church NYC for the Association of Anglican Musicians and written by William Albright.

I need more coffee.

2 thoughts on “STLT#310, The Earth Is Home

  1. The one time the Program Committee (thankfully disbanded shortly thereafter) chose this hymn, our pianist (age 16) stood up before we started singing and said “I just want you all to know that I didn’t choose this hymn.” Then she sat down and started playing it to accompany us, and after just a few bars the worship leader said “forget it” and motioned for us to stop singing. I’ve always given this one a wide berth.

  2. WTF indeed. You didn’t even mention the ostinato that appears at the end along with an elaborate set of instructions. Perhaps this could be performed by a choir, but sung as a congregational hymn? No way! Judy Welles: I loved the story that you shared! 🙂

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