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A Glad Obedience

Why and What We Sing

Availability:
1-2 days processing
Publisher:
Westminster John Knox Press
Publication Date:
1/29/2019
ISBN:
9780664264642
Pages:
232
Trim Size
5.5 x 8.5
Product Type:
Paper

The Christian practice of hymn singing, says renowned biblical scholar Walter Brueggemann, is a countercultural act. It marks the Christian community as different from an unforgiving and often ungrateful culture. It is also, he adds, an "absurd enterprise” in the midst of the hyper-busy, market-driven society that surrounds us. In this helpful and engaging volume, Brueggemann discusses both why we sing and what we sing. The first part of the book examines the Psalms and what they can teach us about the reasons that corporate song is a part of the Christian tradition. The second part looks at fifteen popular hymns, including classic and contemporary ones such as “Blest Be the Ties That Binds,” “God's Eye Is on the Sparrow,” “Once to Every Man and Nation,” “Someone Asked the Question,” and “We Are Marching in the Light of God,” and the reasons why they have caught our imagination. 

“To know why we sing,” Brueggemann writes, “may bring us to a deeper delight in our singing and a strengthened resolve to sing without calculation before the God ‘who is enthroned on the praises of Israel’ (Ps. 22:3). 

Walter Brueggemann is William Marcellus McPheeters Professor Emeritus of Old Testament at Columbia Theological Seminary. An ordained minister in the United Church of Christ, he is the author of dozens of books, including Sabbath as Resistance: Saying No to the Culture of NowA Gospel of Hope, and Interrupting Silence: God’s Command to Speak Out.


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“Singing has been a part of liberation movements from the Songs of Moses and Miriam in Exodus 15 to the Freedom Songs of oppressed South Africans suffering under apartheid. Singing demands much more commitment than the acquiescence of mere recitation. Singing projects its message into a world that desperately needs to hear it. Singing fosters communal memory, defiance, and celebration that compete with siren songs of dominant cultural norms. We can sing ourselves into what we need to become. This book tells us why congregations must sing for their lives and what they should sing.” –C. Michael Hawn,University Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Church Music, Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University

“If I had the resources, I would give a copy of this book to every preacher in the country as a model for how to unpack the biblical, theological, and homiletical resources in the church’s treasury of hymns. When rampant abuses of power may tempt us to the silence of “weak resignation,” Brueggemann eloquently shows us why we must keep singing.” –Mary Louise Bringle, past president of The Hymn Society in the U.S. and Canada

“Through a study of the Psalms and hymns, Walter Brueggemann calls the church to its primary doxological vocation—singing praise to God! At a time when many congregations have lost their singing voice, this book invites us to the joyful, even subversive, gift of song that tunes up for God while turning down the volume on other cultural gods. Read this book and you’ll be made glad and discover why and what we should sing, but even more, you’ll discover a deeper, fuller life grounded in the covenantal music of God.” -Luke A. Powery, Dean of Duke University Chapel and co-general editor of Connections: A Lectionary Commentary for Preaching and Worship

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