This is not a joke. I am actually taking a class at Duke this fall called “Songwriting and Theology.” Dr. Lester Ruth, a new professor to Duke, is teaching this course which he crafted while a professor at Asbury Seminary. To address what he felt was a severe deficiency on the part of seminaries and the church as a whole to theologically instruct its poets. See his article on Songwriters and the Trinity.
One quote worth mentioning from the class reflecting the current state of affairs in the church. Do you think this is true?
“The Church has no theological expectations of her musicians”
The course will have a focus in Wesleyan verse but will also examine hymnody from the whole scope of church song. Evidently we are even examining the sermon-songs of Romanus the Melodist. Now THAT should be interesting!
Among the historical material to be reviewed will be worship songs by Charles Wesley (British, 18th century), Prudentius (a Western poet from the late patristic period), Ephrem the Syrian (an Eastern poet from the late patristic period), Romanos the Melodist (an Eastern poet from the early Byzantine period), Isaac Watts (British, 18th century), as well as a sampling of other Western and Eastern texts for Christmas, Lent, Holy Week, and Easter.
One of our main assignments each week is to write verse instructed by the historical study of the day. This week’s assignment looks at the hymns of Isaac Watts. We need to write at lease two stanza’s that reflect on a psalm and offer up a Christian twist.
I’m thinking a lot about the Lord’s Supper and have been reading through Psalms 113-118 (Great Hallel) – psalms that were used as part of the passover liturgy.
O, who is like the Lord our God?
His name the heavens round
While nations echo his chavod
The earth repeats the sound
He raises men from all their debts
And women from their fears
He rescues them for princely courts
Anoints their blessed tears
He lifts the worker from his toil
Shines light in barren wombs
He gives a harvest of the years
And leads us from the tomb!
(c) 2011 Bruce Benedict