Sunday, 13 April 2008

How great thou art

I was at a wedding recently, and, it being a wedding, there were hymns and stuff.

One of the hymns was 'How Great Thou Art' by Carl Gustav Boberg, which contained this verse:

O when I see ungrateful man defiling
This bounteous earth, God's gifts so good and great;
In foolish pride, God's holy Name reviling,
And yet, in grace, His wrath and judgement wait.

This struck me as interesting for a number of reasons:
- That verse seems to have an environmental theme, which is unusual for a hymn.
- The line 'In grace, His wrath and judgement wait' seemed to be an odd image. How can wrath wait in grace? It reminded me of Bill Hicks' one-line critique of Christianity - "The whole image is that eternal suffering awaits anyone who questions God's infinite love ..."
- The title 'How great thou art' reminded me of the sermon from Monty Python's Meaning of Life:
"Let us praise God.
Oh Lord, oooh you are so big. So absolutely huge. Gosh, we’re all really impressed down here I can tell you.
Forgive us, O Lord, for this dreadful toadying and barefaced flattery.
But you are so strong and, well, just so super. Fantastic.

- Something I have thought about before - What sort of a deity would need constant praise from its followers? The idea that a God would need to be praised seems to be something of an anthropomorphisation.

So, in summary, I found being in a church and hearing people sing hymns pretty strange.