Friday, 3 April 2015

Good Friday Hymns



I have always loved the above hymn "My Song is Love Unknown". It is in itself a beautiful meditation upon Good Friday. My only hesitation in posting it is that it jars with me somewhat that the hymn identifies Christ's oppressors as the other, not ourselves but  them.

They rise and needs will have 
My dear Lord made away;
A murderer they save.
The Prince of life they slay.

Leaving aside the possible anti-Semitic interpretations which are perhaps the greatest danger of this hymn, the identification as Christ, the victim as ours and the perpetrators as them deprives us of an understanding of ourselves as oppressors, perpetrators - as fully sinful.It is not until we can confront ourselves as just as sinful as others that we can be fully forgiven. Rowan Williams writes in Resurrection: Interpreting the Easter Gospel, that the paradox of Easter is that "our victim is our hope" and that  none can access that hope without, "the prior recognition that I victimise".I wish we could  change the pronouns of this otherwise wonderful hymn  to "we" to allow it to make more sense theologically. 

We rise and needs will have 
Our dear Lord made away;
A murderer we save.
The Prince of life we slay.

Another hymn by John Newton "I saw One hanging on a tree", identifies the speaker as both cause and  beneficiary of the cross. In this Christ, the victim, is also our judge whose look "seemed to charge me with His death", and at the same time our hope, "I freely all forgive." I managed to find it on Youtube and, although accompanied by slightly schmaltzy pictures, it is worth reflecting upon, as indeed both these hymns are.





1 comment:

  1. Agree with your reservations, Sue. Setting aside the fact that my daughter's recent marriage has given us a Jewish side to the family, which made certain references in this afternoon's liturgy give me food for thought, yes, a change of pronouns would make more theological sense.

    ReplyDelete