Monday, August 09, 2004

As Sisters In Zion

Our congregational rest hymn in sacrament meeting yesterday was As Sisters In Zion. I was up front, interpreting for a Deaf member, so I got a great view of the congregation. Quite a few people, especially men, were having really hard time keeping a straight face. (This included the bishopric, who seemed to be surprised that we were singing it for a rest hymn.)

It made me wonder whether the women feel as awkward singing hymns that use exclusively male language.

14 comments:

  1. Given our longstanding linguo-social convention of using the male as a blanket term for both sexes (hey, always remember, it's even worse in Romance languages like French), I don't think there would be anything near the reaction. Now, compare "As Sisters in Zion" to something more deliberately male like "Ye Elders of Israel"...

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  2. And by the way -- no fair posting this here AND at Nauvoo. (Whippersnappers taking over the d****d Bloggernacle with your d****d questions...)

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  3. Different audiences -- yes, with some overlap. :-)

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  4. Sometimes a certain hymn is chosen without much though as to who is in the audience. I'll never forget being at the Jerusalem Center, waiting for the mayor of Bethlehem (or another Palestinian town... I can't remember for sure) to come speak to us. Since he was running late, the students started to sing hymns... a common custom when the group was waiting. At one point the group started singing "Onward Christian Soldiers." The Arab-Muslim professor who was sponsoring the talk we were to hear was NOT amused. He got up and in very pointed language said that this was not a good song to be singing around Palestinian Muslims.

    Danithew
    http://www.wump.info/wumpblog

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  5. Danithew: "onward Christian Soldiers" has also made me uncomfortable at times, even in the United States. It was fun to sing it in German though, while living in Germany. Still, it was definitely a huge faux pas to sing it in the presence of Palestinian Muslims.

    In fact, an extreme example of this is D. Fletcher's comment over at T&S a month ago in which he stated that a friend of his who was a convert from Judaism left the Church because his Manhattan ward sang "Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken," which is set to the same Haydn tune as the German national anthem. Because the Nazis used this tune when they emphasized von Fallersleben's first verse of Das Deutschlandlied, and depsite the fact that the tune is still the national anthem of present day, markedly non-Nazi Germany, this Jewish individual took occasion to leave the Church. So I think that is a rather extreme example but see the sense in avoiding something as offensive as "Onward Christian Soldiers" in the presence of Palestinian Muslims.

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  6. In my own wacky ward, someone scheduled As Sisters in Zion as the closing hymn on Easter Sunday a few years ago. (Prior to Logan and Amy arriving, so it can't be blamed on them).

    A lot of members were really annoyed, but it was hard to tell whether it was because of the Sisters part (for some, it clearly seemed to be) or because of the utter lack of an Easter theme.

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  7. I walked past the RS room last week and overheard "Brightly Beams Our Father's Mercy" (#335) being played. It's one of my favorite hymns to sing, but it's arranged in the hymnbook for men's chorus, so I was confused as to why the Relief Society would be singing it. It took me a couple of seconds to realize that they were singing "Should You Feel Inclined to Censure" (#235), which has the same tune.

    I will refrain from making any comments about how this may or may not be a fitting substitution of lyrics for our wives to sing in Relief Society.

    As an aside, one of the best non-missionary work related accomplishments of my mission was getting my district to sing a passable version of "Do You Hear What I Hear?" for the mission fireside, even if it did require puting nshumate on the soprano part for a note or two. Hisashiburi, Shumate-choro!

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  8. That's not soprano, that's "elastic tenor."

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  9. I'm glad to see that tradition still lives on in the JTSM. Scarcity of sister missionaries meant that I sang alto for two Kichijoji Christmas Conferences.

    And though the term "elastic tenor" is fine, I prefer "true tenor." As has been pointed out elsewhere in the bloggernacle, most self-proclaimed "tenors" are really baritones in control-top pantyhose.

    Which means they may be just fine singing "as Sisters in Zion." ;-)

    Yoroshiku,
    Chad too

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  10. I'm glad to see that tradition still lives on in the JTSM. Scarcity of sister missionaries meant that I sang alto for two Kichijoji Christmas Conferences.

    And though the term "elastic tenor" is fine, I prefer "true tenor." As has been pointed out elsewhere in the bloggernacle, most self-proclaimed "tenors" are really baritones in control-top pantyhose.

    Which means they may be just fine singing "as Sisters in Zion." ;-)

    Yoroshiku,
    Chad too

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  11. hm...what about the dangers of singing non-sacramental hymns for sacrament? in a new neo-branch of latinos in philadelphia, they chose to sing "the spirit of god" as the sacramental hymn. it was a disaster. i made eyes at the chorister until she got the msg that 3 verses was enough! 2 would have been...

    -lyle

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  12. Lyle, what's a "neo-branch"? I assume it's not just a "new branch" since you said "new neo-branch."

    Funny things like that happen though. Actually, I don't necessarily see anything wrong with singing any of the Christ-centered hymns for the sacrament, but I know that I am in the minority on this issue, so I won't ruffle any feathers.

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  13. hallo 

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  14. I think it is ok. It only depends on how we sung it. Of course it is quite odd to hear it being sang in the sacrament but it's ok, I guess.
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