Unitarian Universalist minister Eric Posa comments in the prior post about Singing the Journey
On another hymnody issue: Is there anything in Singing the Living Tradition that you especially like to complement preaching on Universalism? I donâ€™t mean Humiliati/Ken Patton universal religion, but universal salvation. (Iâ€™m doing a sermon series at my new church on salvation, and why itâ€™s not a useless concept for UUs.) Any advice you can offer on hymns would be appreciated.
That’s going to be a tough one. Universalists, for all their strengths, did not have the best cadre of hymn writers and tended to (1) write rather badly didactic hymns and (2) use the best that others had to offer. Plus, Universalists generally had a higher Christology and weren’t so squeemish to talk about Christ’s divine nature and the purpose of his sacrifice. The whole “it isn’t how he died but how he lived” approach is a Unitarian gloss on Universalism. A better Universalist reading would be closer to “because of God’s loving character, Jesus Christ was able to fulfill his purpose in a way that benefits all humanity (or all sentient or living things).”
Hymns that address God’s active care and identify the bonds of corporate humanity and (to a lesser degree) mutual reliance should work. Thus from Singing the Living Tradition, I’d go for
- “Immortal Love, forever full”
- “Unto thy temple, Lord, we come”
- “Bring, O morn, thy music”
- “Come, my Way, my Truth, my Life”
- “God of grace and God of glory”
I wouldn’t balk at “We’ll build a land” either.
Had “What wondrous Love” been left as original — it reads to me a bit neurotic now — that would work so perhaps there’s an opportunity there for an anthem or an instrumental work.
The problem with SLT isn’t particularly its hymns about God, but its hymns about corporate humanity, which pale besides the triumph of the individual (one of several reasons I hate “Spirit of life” with a passion) or a particular congregation or community, and that’s not Universalist.
I’d be prone to tip in some stronger stuff: “O God of earth and altar” comes to mind but I’d ask others. Thoughts gang?