Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Just How Low Does the Love of God Reach?

In church on Sunday we sang a well-known hymn, but the words were slightly different from what I had learned. The original text goes like this:

The love of God is greater far
Than tongue or pen could ever tell
It goes beyond the highest star
And reaches to the lowest hell.

The version we sang (lyrics courtesy of iWorship, a company that produces song-lyric videos that can be played on a screen so that nobody needs a hymnal) went like this:

The love of God is greater far
Than tongue or pen could ever tell
It goes beyond the highest star
And reaches to the lowest hill.

Huh? The lowest hill? For one thing it doesn't even rhyme, and for another, isn't a hill, by definition, elevated? What on earth is "the lowest hill?"

This could be a typo, or it could be a certain squeamish sense that we shouldn't sing about h-e-double hockey sticks in church. Jesus had no such compunctions in the New Testament, and I for one need a love that reaches to the lowest hell. The lowest hill just doesn't cut it.

This song has a refrain that never fails to make me smile. I don't usually see it printed with a comma, so it reads like this:

O love of God, how rich and pure!
How measureless and strong!
It shall forevermore endure
The saints’ and angels’ song.

To me this means that the love will endure the song - that is, in spite of how out of tune, insincere, and generally unpleasant our song is, God's love will endure. That is certainly true, but I think what the author intended was:

It shall forever more endure,
The saints' and angels' song.

"The saints' and angels' song," in the second version, is an appositive, meaning that the love of God IS the saints' and angels' song. Also true, but I like the wrong version better.

Here's the whole song in the Cyberhymnal. (Warning - this link plays music!)

Monday, October 20, 2008

I Hope Not

A piece in the October 6th New Yorker begins this way:

"I have a theory that life is junior high," Tom Brokaw said last week, roaming the stage of the Metropolitan Ballroom at the Sheraton. "Everybody's trying to get to the right tables, hang out with the right crowd, say the right things, and emerge saying they're part of the 'in' group."

Hm. Maybe his life is junior high. I'm glad mine isn't. I spend most of my days in middle school, and while I love my students, I am frequently happy that I'm not in that age bracket any more.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Poetry Friday - What Travel Does

Today I read Naomi Shihab Nye's poem "What Travel Does" with my eighth graders. It is in the book A Maze Me. For copyright reasons I won't post the whole thing. The poem speaks of the effects of travel on several different people. Here's one, at the beginning of the poem:

My uncle comes home from Siberia
describing the smoked caribou leg
still wearing its hoof
left on the drainboard
week after week,
small knives slicing
sour red flesh.
He becomes a vegetarian.
But he misses the spaciousness.
It wasn't crowded up there.
He ran into a polar bear
the same way you might run into your
mailman around the block.

Other effects of travel include a love for bright colors and an aching sense of the injustice suffered by others. Buy the book and read the whole poem!

The effects of travel (or living as a foreigner) are sometimes bewilderment and confusion. It was good today to read this fun exploration of some of the other (mostly positive) ways we are changed by interaction with other places and people and to be reminded of how that has happened for me throughout my life.

Here's today's Poetry Friday roundup.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Poetry Friday, a day late, and mini-update

Here's yesterday's Poetry Friday roundup.

I'm still spending most of my time working, though I did listen to the debate Thursday night and today I'm taking a break to go to the dentist! Fun, fun! Next Friday is the last day for my kids to turn in all their writing, and I've been swamped by drafts.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Theme Day - Lines

Today's DP Blog theme is "Lines." This lends itself to many interpretations, and the talented photographers had a lot of fun. You can see thumbnails here.