HYMN: a song with spiritual foundation


I’m one of those unusual people who really pays attention to the words of music.  Especially in church.   It really bothers me when I find us singing  a hymn in which the words are diametrically opposed to the stated theology of my faith.

Why are we singing it?

1) It’s an old favorite and the older members of the community love the memories it brings back;

2) We don’t’ know better, and think the meaning of the music is something else;

3) We haven’t taken an adult class in theology since junior high Sunday School and don’t have a clue as to what it’s all about;

4) Everybody else is singing it, so it must be okay.”

Consequently, we become part of an exercise in heresy without even knowing it.


There’s a very popular “feel good” song sung in Christian churches all the time who have adopted some of the more contemporary music which floats through the church.   In a very short time some of those songs have become traditions, and are found in congregations which otherwise espouse more progressive ideals. One of those songs is “I am the bread of life.”  

“I am the bread of life
He who comes to me shall not hunger
He who believes in me shall not thirst
No one can come to me, unless the Father draw him

REFRAIN: And I will raise Him up (3x) on the last day

The bread that I will give
is my flesh for the life of the world
and he who eats of this bread
he shall live forever (2x) (Refrain)

Unless you eat of the flesh of the son of Man
and drink of his blood
you shall not have life within you(2x) (Refrain)

I am the resurrection, I am the life
he who believes in me even if he die
he shall live forever (Refrain)”

Really?   Only those who take communion (eat the flesh and drink the blood) have life within you?  The ticket to life in God is participation in the segment of the community of faith that promotes and encourages communion?  Is that what we believe?  I know it’s a central part of what it means to be a faithful Christian.  But what about others? *  What’s all this talk about the unity of the Abrahamic children of God (Jews, Christians and Muslims?)   Do we really not believe that, and are just saying it because it’s politically correct?

I apologize to all those people who love this song.   It is a favorite of many, and is inspiring to a group, especially in a retreat or camp setting.
But, really, do we want to sing loudly words that fly in the face of what we believe?  Granted, at one time there were all kinds of beliefs circulating that were deemed “christian.”   There still are.  Some of them are sound and based upon good scholarship and wise definition.  But there are others out there that are not in synch with what Christians believe … or say they believe.
I’ll bet that the same thing is true in non-Christian faiths, but I don’t have the experience to proclaim that as a fact.  I can only speak about that which I have seen and experienced.
This wasn’t meant to sound like a sermon.   It’s just me ranting again.

Photo Credit: A Kaminsky

*(The Pope said recently that even dogs may find their way inside the Pearly Gates…whatever that means.)

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  1. Are the Pearly Gates simply a reward, or prize, for being a good person? Or is it indeed Paradise? If it’s just a reward, then I wouldn’t expect that dogs can earn entry. But if it’s Paradise, then why wouldn’t dogs be there? Animals can absolutely contribute to paradise.

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