Saturday, April 16, 2016

how great is my god

I do not write often of my faith.

My feeling is that faith is to be lived -- not to be paraded on street corners. Jesus had something to say about that in Matthew 6.

Sometimes events change our style. And that happened this morning.

I am not certain why, but I was searching YouTube for one of my favorite choruses. I should stop here and tell you I share C.S. Lewis's assessment of church hymns as "fifth-rate poems set to sixth-rate music." And choruses are much worse with lyrics that would make Ziggy blush.

But some music touches all levels of my reason. "How Great is Our God" must have at one point lodged itself in my head to be visited again. And, so I did.

This is what I found -- a world version of the song written (and performed here) by Chris Tomlin. For a rather fluffy piece, this performance hit several  theological chords with me. Too often, we, in the West, forget that Christianity is a worldwide religion; it is not just for middle-class shopkeepers in Topeka. Millions of people worship God under the same banner in many tongues -- all proclaiming that God is indeed a great God.

This essay is not the place for me to discuss how the Muslim declaration "Allahu Akbar" may be related to the Christian assertion that "God is great." That is for another day. But it is a connection well worth discussing.

For whatever reason, listening to this version of Tomlin's little song lifted my soul this morning. And I think I know why. C.S. Lewis provided the answer in his critique of Christian hymns:

But as I went on I saw the great merit of it. I came up against different people of quite different outlooks and different education, and then gradually my conceit just began peeling off. I realized that the hymns (which were just sixth-rate music) were, nevertheless, sung with devotion and benefit by an old saint in elastic-side boots in the opposite pew, and then you realize that you aren’t fit to clean those boots. It gets you out of your solitary conceit.
The song also answered a challenge that fellow blogger Kim offered me. He suggested I could improve my Spanish listening skills by listening to music with Spanish lyrics.

The trick was finding music I could listen to without getting bored. And that was difficult. I am not very fond of most Mexican music.

But this morning's video provided a solution. The answer has been all around me.

My neighbor plays Christian music through most of the day. I know that because I recognize the tunes.

I hear familiar Christian choruses wafting out of our local evangelical churches on Sundays and week nights.

When I went to Cuba in 2001, I attended services at the sole Salvation Army in Havana the Castro brothers has deigned to leave open -- even though all of the Army's social services, but one, were stripped from them. The sermon was a mystery to me. (I then knew no Spanish.) But I could sing the choruses. They were the same as those we sang in Salem.

So, I am now searching the internet for Christian choruses in Spanish. There are a multitude. Thanks, Kim. I think your learning exercise will work.

And, now, here is the video that started my morning reverie. I hope it means something to you.

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