For Advent this year I wanted to take up something spiritual that would give me some energy and let me be creative and whatnot. When the call went out for Advent! Awake! new devotionals for Advent I signed up to write the first one with the prompt being essentially “it’s Advent and Genesis 1:1-2:4.”
Oh, the open-ended projects! There are times when that freedom is amazing and times when I sit staring at that little flashing line on an empty page. So, after about five different narrative reflections which might someday turn into something, I gave up. I said, “Screw this, I’m writing a hymn!”
I don’t know how y’all handle stress but apparently hymn writing is helpful for me.
The end of the process was “When in Creating Our World,” a new text to the hymn tune ABERYSTWTH. If Joseph Parry (the composer) was alive today I have a feeling we’d be really good friends because his hymn tunes have given me some incredible inspiration over the past few years.
But I didn’t want to stop writing hymns after I sent the lyrics and recording off to Advent! Awake! So I said, “There’s a spiritual practice for Advent!” I don’t know if hymn lyric writing is a traditional spiritual practice, but I’m going to do it.
No, not a new hymn every day. I decided to follow the readings in Lessons and Carols services. The scripture readings vary in Lessons and Carols (often Genesis 1 isn’t included), but it’s my hymn writing spiritual practice so I can choose what scripture to base new hymns off of. I think if Lessons and Carols gives us the broad sweep of redemptive history through the Magi’s visit we should start at what is not the literal beginning but is the beginning of our scripture narrative.
By the end of Advent, I will have written 9-10 new hymns. Odds are a couple will be good, a couple will be bad, and most will probably in the middle. I’ll be using hymn tunes that aren’t in copyright and trying to build hymns that are singable and scriptural for 21st century churches.
Look for the background and links here on the blog and for the listing of all the hymns click the Lessons and New Carols button under the big flower. Here we go!