It is in this last vein that I was reminded of a particularly odd hymn. It was written by Lesbia Scott (even recognizing that the world was no doubt different when she was born in 1898, this is definitely the kind of name that causes one to ask, "What were her parents thinking?"), in the early part of the 20th century. It is, essentially, a children's song, designed to get kids thinking about the saints of Christian history, and to encourage them to consider ways in which they, too, can be saints of God.
Here, for example, is the first verse:
I sing a song of the saints of God,Look at the way that list of saints just rolls trippingly down. I can easily see this as a song that kids commit to memory at an early age. The tune most commonly associated with this song wasn't the one originally attached to it (this is common with hymns), but it was written especially for it (less common), and fits the "children's hymn" concept very nicely.
Patient and brave and true,
Who toiled and fought and lived and died
For the Lord they loved and knew.
And one was a doctor, and one was a queen,
And one was a shepherdess on the green;
They were all of them saints of God, and I mean,
God helping, to be one too.
It is the second verse in which the oddity really begins to strike home. Here's is the second half of the verse:
And one was a soldier, and one was a priest,What was Ms. Scott thinking when she wrote that? "Not any reason, no not the least, why I shouldn't be (a saint) too"? How about that one you just got done singing about? You know, the saint who "was slain by a fierce wild beast"? That sounds like an awfully good reason why a person wouldn't want to be a saint! And this is a song for kids!
And one was slain by a fierce wild beast;
And there's not any reason, no, not the least,
Why I shouldn't be one too.
Some hymns are pretty weird....