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Birthday Hymnody

Discussion in '2003 Archive' started by Haruo, Apr 24, 2003.

  1. Haruo

    Haruo New Member

    Mar 15, 2003
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    Once a month at Japanese Baptist (where I worship), and on an ad hoc basis at Fremont Community (formerly "Baptist") (where I am a member and my roommate is the organist) we sing "Happy Birthday to you"; at Fremont this is normally done during the service, with organ accompaniment, at JBC during the Nichigo fellowship meal with piano accompaniment.

    But what I'm interested in here is not so much the practice or acceptability of "Happy Birthday to You" in church as people's favorite specifically birthday- or anniversary-related hymns.

    The most famous one (though few people probably think of it as such) is, I think, "O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing My Great Redeemer's Praise", which is a cento from a poem Charles Wesley wrote for the first anniversary of his conversion. The Cyber Hymnal has the entire poem of 18 stanzas (click here) , from which most hymnals select three to six as a hymn, usually beginning with the "thousand tongues" one. Most American hymnals set it to Azmon, but I like it to Lyngham (despite the salacious, pagan sound of the hymn name) even better.

    But my favorite topical hymn for a birthday is, I think, Come Away to the Skies (click), which Charles supposedly wrote for his wife's birthday.

    Anybody got any other good ones to share?

  2. Eric B

    Eric B Active Member
    Site Supporter

    May 26, 2001
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    In my circle, we always add to the traditional birthday song
    "Happy birthday to you,
    Only one will not do!
    Born again is salvation
    How many have you?
    There is also a move in the black community (I don't know about the church) to sing Stevie Wonder's "Happy Birthday [to ya]", (which was directed specifically towards Martin Luther King)
    So even here we have modern pop influence brushing aside the old [​IMG]