In other classes that I teach, I assign essays to students with no hesitation without feeling the need to actually write the essay in question myself. My work is full of writing of essay-like articles, chapters, conference papers, and reports, and so I feel confident that the assignments of this sort that I impose on students are doable.
When I taught the Bible and Music for the first time, however, I felt that if I am going to ask students to produce something creative involving biblical text and music together, then I most certainly have to participate in the effort alongside them myself.
Last year this led to two pieces of music: “Yahweh, God of Star Armies” and “O Lord Our Lord (Psalm 8)” to the melody Mná na hÉireann. The latter (as you will hear if you click through and listen) I only recorded in a very rough take, with just me singing and the guitar. But I think those have potential.
This year I decided to do likewise, and so I asked my wife what her favorite passage from the Bible was. Her answer was 1 Corinthians 13, and so I set about setting it to music. I presented the result to her, and she gave some helpful feedback. Here’s the song that resulted:
Here are the lyrics, which closely resemble those you’ll find in mainstream and well-known Bible translations:
“If I Don’t Have Love”Though I speak with tongues of men or angels, but don’t have love,I am like a clanging gong or clashing cymbal.
If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge,if I have faith that can move mountains, but I don’t have love,I am nothing, nothing, nothing.
If I give all I have to the poor and surrender my body to the flamesIf I don’t have love, I gain nothing, nothing, nothing.Love is patient, love is kind.It does not envy, it does not boastlove is not proud nor rude.Nor is it self-seeking,Love is not easily angered,It keeps no record of wrongs,Love does not delight in evilBut rejoices with the truthLove always protects,Love always trusts,Love always hopes, always perseveres.Love never fails.But where there are prophecies, they will cease;where there are tongues, they will be stilled;where there is knowledge, it will pass away.
For now we know in part and we prophesy in part,but when completeness comes, the imperfect disappears.
When I was a child, I talked like a child,I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child.When I became a man, I put childish things away.Now we barely see a reflection in a glass;then we shall see face to face.Now I know in part, only in part;then I‘ll fully know, even as I’m fully known.And now these three remain: faith, hope and love.Faith, hope, and loveBut the greatest of these is love.
What do you think of it? If that isn’t your cup of tea, you can try another recent setting of 1 Corinthians 13 by The Corner Room that may be more to your liking…