The following entry was written with tongue firmly in cheek.
If I Were a Minister...
My friend Kelli recently decided to be wild and crazy and applied to become a minister with the Universal Life Curch. This does not make her ordained by any specific religion; it simply enables her to legally perform weddings and other religio-legal ceremonies and, I presume, to form her own church, if she so wished.
This knowledge combined in my head with my recent experiences volunteering at the Walker's Group Home women's shelter here in Houston.
My work for the shelter was getting contact names for area churches, so the shelter could send them correspondence seeking donations. In Houston, there are a lot of little hole-in-the-wall, independent (usually some variety of Baptist) churches which spring up overnight and then fade away after a short time. You can pick them out by their odd, mile-long names. These churches have names such as 'Glory to God in Christ Faith Miracle Evangelistic Bible Church of the Epiphany' or something similar.
So I started thinking, this evening, If I started a church of my own, what would it do, and what would I name it? I gave it some thought while we drove home from Barnes & Noble this evening, and this is what I came up with:
St. Hildegard's Joyful Noise Unto the Lord Exultation Choral Church
Church mission: To express our love of the Divine through song and charitable assistance
Church motto: Ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est.
Church advertisement: 'Are you tired of singing sappy, insipid church hymns which make you cringe when the choir director says the congretation will sing verses 1-4? Does the thought of singing "Jesus Loves Me, This I KNow" make you feel positively unChristian and extremely annoyed? Then St. Hildegard's is the church for you!'
About the Church:
It is said that music is the sounds of Heaven, imperfectly remembered. I believe that this is what church music should be but too often isn't. Music should uplift the spirit by its sheer beauty, both in lyrics and in melody. It should not be preachy or overly sentimental. Just as pure love is the truest way to know the Divine, pure beauty is the most intense way, I think, to give voice to that love.
St. Hildegard's follows no liturgical calendar--which fact would probably make our namesake turn in her grave. If you feel like singing a Christmas carol in June, sing it! Just make sure it's not one of the icky secular ones. However, "Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer" is okay.
We encourage the formation of local branches of St. Hildegard's in your area. Spread the beauty around!
St. Hildegard's hymn repertoire includes:
- Anything by Hildegard of Bingen
- "Our God is an Awesom God" - Richard Mullin
- Anything by Michelle Toomes
- Anything by Amy Grant
- "Bridge Over Troubled Water" - Paul Simon Just because.
- 'Ubi Caritas' arrangement from the Celtic Spirit album
- Medieval church music--It's all good!
- "Lord of the Dance"
- "The Prayer of St. Francis"
- The 1970's version of The Lord's Prayer
- "Dies Irae" from Mozart's Requiem--because it's cool
- "One Bread, One Body"
- "I Met a Man on the Road to Jerusalem"
- Good gospel music, the kind that makes the church walls shake
- Anything from the Chant albums
- Muslim suras, if they are sung by Cat Stevens (We'd like to recruit him as a member! We're not picky about what religion you practice, as long as you can contribute good music from it.)
- Anything from the Sabbatum album by Rondellus. True, Black Sabbath is secular, but the lyrics are all in Latin, and it just sounds great!
- "Morning Has Broken"
- "Amazing Grace"--played on bagpipes
- Organ music--Anything by Bach or Gordon Young is most welcome!
Songs We Will Not Sing:
- Anything by Christy Lane *shudders*
- "That Old, Rugged Cross"
- "Jesus Loves Me; This I Know"
- "Yes, Jesus Loves Me"
- The icky, sappy version of The Lord's Prayer that my previous church started singing after they dropped the cool, 1970's version
- Just about anything my current church's choir sings on a regular basis (This is why I haven't joined my church's choir.) :(
I know; I'm so bad! But I really, really miss getting to sing ethereally beautiful music at church.