Century Marks

Century Marks

Hymn comeback?

“Our God,” a praise hymn by Matt Redman, is the most popular song sung in American churches, according to a chart that tracks such matters. Approaching the top ten list is a retro hymn, “In Christ Alone,” cowritten by Keith Getty. Getty represents a newer group of songwriters who try to get more content into their songs than the usual praise songs. Getty believes hymns should be singable without a band and should say something bold. “I think it’s to the church’s poverty that the average worship song now has so few words. . . . It is so focused on several commercial aspects of God, like the fact that he loves our praises,” Getty says (NPR, July 8).

Going gently

When Charlie, a highly regarded orthopedist, discovered he had pancreatic cancer, he refused all treatment. He ended his practice, never entered a hospital again, and spent time with his family until his death. This is not an unusual approach for doctors, according to Ken Murray, himself a physician. Doctors know what options they have at the end of life and how futile extreme efforts often are. While doctors often must use extreme measures to keep other people alive to meet relatives’ expectations, they refuse these measures themselves. Studies have shown that people in hospice care often live longer than people with the same disease who seek active treatment (Health Care Blog, August 6, 2012).

Revolution reading

These five books on the American Revolution, selected by American historian Thomas Kidd, were all written for a general audience by academic historians: Gordon Wood, The Radicalism of the American Revolution; David Hackett Fischer, Paul Revere’s Ride; Pauline Maier, American Scripture: Making the Declaration of Independence; James Byrd, Sacred Scrip­ture, Sacred War: The Bible and the Amer­ican Revolution; and Maya Jasa­noff, Liberty’s Exiles: American Loyalists in the Revolutionary World. Kidd himself has authored two books on the topic: God of Liberty: A Religious History of the Amer­ican Revolution and Patrick Henry: First among Patriots (Patheos, July 2).

Muslim rocks

A group of young Muslim musicians, known as “nasheeds,” are combining hip-hop, country and pop music with the traditional message of their faith.  Nasheeds are supposed to “remind people of God,” said 22-year-old Mo Sabri of Johnson City, Tennessee, one of the first Muslim singers with his own channel on Pandora. His most popular song, “I Believe in Jesus,” has been viewed on YouTube more than a million times. Sabri said he wrote the song as a reminder that Muslims revere Jesus as a prophet and that all faiths should follow Jesus’ command to love one’s neighbor (RNS).

One accord

A study in Sweden suggests that when people sing together their heartbeats tend to be synchronized. When singers in a high school choir were hooked to heart rate monitors, the monitors showed their heartbeats were most in sync for a humming and a mantra exercise, and least coordinated when singing a hymn. Group singing could be found to have cardiovascular benefits (CNN, July 8).