Wednesday, May 18, 2011

What's your favorite Christian hymn?

Sometime ago, I was asked what's my favorite hymn or Christian song. I said it is this:



There comes a time
When we heed a certain call
When the world must come together as one
There are people dying
And it's time to lend a hand to life
The greatest gift of all

We can't go on
Pretending day by day
That someone, somewhere will soon make a change
We are all a part of
God's great big family
And the truth, you know love is all we need

[Chorus]
We are the world
We are the children
We are the ones who make a brighter day
So let's start giving
There's a choice we're making
We're saving our own lives
It's true we'll make a better day
Just you and me

Send them your heart
So they'll know that someone cares
And their lives will be stronger and free
As God has shown us by turning stone to bread
So we all must lend a helping hand
(**Note: Very high Christology here: Recognizing Jesus of Nazareth as 'God'. The 'so' is similar with what some theologians call 'incarnational mission'. It means we have to be like Christ who incarnated to be one of us to help us, hence we need to incarnate ourselves to be one of the 'Others' to help them.)

[Chorus]
We are the world
We are the children
We are the ones who make a brighter day
So let's start giving
There's a choice we're making
We're saving our own lives
It's true we'll make a better day
Just you and me

When you're down and out
There seems no hope at all
But if you just believe
There's no way we can fall
Well, well, well, well, let us realize
That a change will only come
When we stand together as one

[Chorus]
We are the world
We are the children
We are the ones who make a brighter day
So let's start giving
There's a choice we're making
We're saving our own lives
It's true we'll make a better day
Just you and me

What's your favorite hymn/Christian song?

16 comments:

Martin Yee said...

LOL. Words alone does not make a hymn. Not sure if you can even call it a hymn in the first place. You should re-read chapter 12 of Diogenes Allen's book "Philosophy for Understanding Theology" regarding Wittgenstein's concern of the locutionary force of words. Words are not just names. They have value, ethics and aesthetics :)

My favorite hymn is of course "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God" for obvious reasons.

Sze Zeng said...

Hi Martin,

Ya, 'word' just like 'value', 'ethics', and 'aesthetics' are confined within a network of lifeworld (Jurgen Habermas). While the same space is shared by two creatures, yet that does not mean there is only one lifeworld; There are two. With two lifeworld, there are then two different appreciation (not 'meaning' but 'appreciation') to one same word :)

In that case, is your favorite publisher 'Fortress Press' that publishes many good books? And your favorite country would be Germany? :D

Martin Yee said...

Haha. Good one. Philosophies are indeed intriguing. You should visit the Salvador Dali exhibition at the Singapore ArtScience Museum. Dali conveys philosophy through his sculptures and paintings in a ver aesthetic surrealistic way. It is pretty amazing.

I am now into Barthian studies. I guess Karl Barth would not agree with you also that it is a hymn. We can only speak of God on the grounds of God's self revelation.
Lines like "We're saving our own lives" and "Love is all we need" probably will not go down well for him.

Barth is not a German though which is a minus for me:) Yes, I love Germany and Switzerland too. Been to Germany twice and Switzerland once, but not enough.

Sze Zeng said...

You are indeed courageous to tackle Barth. Till now, I have not read a single volume of his Church Dogmatics.

I looked through his works online and yes, I like them. Great artists. But I don't know about his philosophy or the analysis of his works.

Those two lines ("We're saving our own lives" & "Love is all we need") must be read together with the apocalyptic-revelatory Christological verses ("As God has SHOWN us by turning stone to bread,
SO we all MUST lend a helping hand"). By this, the two lines are understood as our response ("SO we all MUST...) to revelation. If taken away from these verses, the two lines do sound kind of "self-help".

I have not been to any western country before. Though you don't have Barth, but you have three other greats from Germany: Moltmann, Tillich and Pannenberg! :D

Sze Zeng said...

Sorry... left out something:

"I looked through his works online and yes, I like them. Great artists. But I don't know about his philosophy or the analysis of his works."

I was referring to Dali in this paragraph, not Barth. :)

Sze Zeng said...

But of course there is no where (if I'm not wrong) in the Bible that God turn stone to bread. Just that there is an assumption that God can, as seen in the devil's temptation to Jesus.

Martin Yee said...

Okay. I get your point now :)

Barth is an enigma for us Lutherans. He is at the same time closest to us in some areas in theology and also very distant from us in some other areas. It is like his dialectical approach to theology. So near and yet so far.

It is probably easier for Lutherans to understand Barth as we are used to reading confessional and creedal stuff, word and sacrament, christology etc.

Sze Zeng said...

As I don't read Barth nor Lutheran theology, I have to learn how they both relate from you. So, look forward to learn about Barth from any upcoming posting at Lutheran Theology Study Group blog. :)

skillfulshepherds said...

Appreciate your interpretation and drawing out of theological and Christological points in the song. Wonder if you would still have the same opinion after watching this rendition (pay close attention to the LCD screen display) @ MJ's memorial.
We are the world - MJ's Memorial

My favourite hymn is "Be Thou My Vision," even before realizing it's my alma mater's school anthem, and we had it sung at our wedding too. ;)

Sze Zeng said...

Hi Timothy,

Good to see you here.

Thank you for the link to the video clip. That presentation certainly looks 'interfaith' where different religions are placed on par with each other.

"Be Thou My Vision" is a great Irish hymn. It must be very meaningful for you since it was embedded in two watermark events in your life. :)

Alex Tang said...

My favouite hymn is "Be Thou my Vision" and favourite song is "The Power of Love". Kinda old school but I like it.

Sze Zeng said...

Hi Alex,

There are many fans of the Irish hymn ya. :)

Which 'Power of Love'? By Celine Dion or Hillsong?

P/S: Enjoy going through Church Dogmatic, vol 2!

pearlie said...

I've two favourite hymns: Be Thou My Vision and Abide With Me.

Too many songs to name :)

nanas said...

hello,

it is very hard to categorize this song into Christian hymn.

first, the statement we are the world. It is not really in parallel with Jesus teaching. I think Jesus said many time that "you are not from this world. this world does not understand you. they will hate you , etc .

second, you already mentioned in your comment, that Jesus never turn stone to bread. the only verse we can find is Satan ask Jesus to turn stone to bread and of course Jesus never follow what satan asked.

well, it is hardly a Christian hymn, unless we are joking around :)

I love many Christian hymns that has the same core message as the bible said.

and of course I like Be Thou My Vision...

reasonable said...

Perhaps, Nanas, by looking at the different nuances of the meaning of WORLD and by looking deeper into song lyrics and looking deeper into the theology behind the literals words of the Christian bible, one may be able to see that in a deeper sense, that song could indeed be said a Christian song. It shares in the fundamental Christian/Jewish theme of redemption (not abandonment) of this world. God so love the world that he is not abandoning it, but to be involved deeply in it to redeem it, and God calls us to join him so that together to redeem the world together, just as in some sense of similarity, the song asks us to join in together to save the world. In the ultimate end we are not going heaven or elsewhere, but to be resurrected back on earth.

On a side note, the author of that song may have a view that the story of Jesus' feeding of the 5000 was a miracle where Jesus turned stones into bread to feed the 5000.

reasonable said...

There is a widely accepted Christian Hymn called This Is My Father's World. This is valid despite the bible verse "not of this world" you quoted. There is a superficial use of biblical verses and there is a deeper appreciation of the significance beneath the superficial words.