(Chorus) Name unnamed, hidden and shown, knowing and known. Gloria!
Beautifully moving, ceaselessly forming,
growing, emerging with awesome delight,
Maker of Rainbows, glowing with color,
arching in wonder, energy flowing in darkness and light:
Spinner of Chaos, pulling and twisting,
freeing the fibers of pattern and form,
Weaver of Stories, famed or unspoken,
tangled or broken shaping a tapestry vivid and warm:
Nudging Discomfort, prodding and shaking,
waking our lives to creative unease,
Straight-talking Lover, checking and humbling
jargon and grumbling, speaking the truth that refreshes and frees:
Midwife of Changes, skillfully guiding,
drawing us out through the shock of the new,
Woman of Wisdom, deeply perceiving,
never deceiving, freeing and leading in all that we do:
Daredevil Gambler, risking and loving,
giving us freedom to shatter your dreams,
Lifegiving Loser, wounded and weeping,
dancing and leaping, sharing the caring that heals and redeems.
… after what became a three-day discussion about Bring Many Names, I know this kind of hymn was and still is important for those who need to re-imagine God.
And truthfully, even the lyrics here – for the most part – are pretty decent. I like the premise, that there are still many names for God that we don’t know and only discover through time and experience. And some of Wren’s names are pretty awesome – Daredevil Gambler, Spinner of Chaos, Weaver of Stories – I’m totally in. Not so much with Lifegiving Loser, although I understand where that comes from and why it’s there. And as some have pointed out, some of the names can be problematic.
Maybe my problem is less with lyrics in Wren’s hymns and more with tunes; as my colleague Thom Belote rightly noted, the tune for Bring Many Names is “pure treacle.” This tune feels awkward and unwieldy – again, maybe good for a soloist or choir, but clunky for a congregation. There’s no way I’d spring this on people on a Sunday morning without an incredible amount of preparation.
My other quibble is that Wren’s lyrics are seemingly endless – in an effort to broaden and expand, they go on…and on… and on. They seem like nothing more than a list. Nothing, really, happens in any sort of progression. It’s recitation (albeit poetic and different), with no movement.
And maybe that’s the real problem with a hymn like this. It’s hard to sing and we get bored. At least I did.
I’m gonna use some of these names for God, though.
[…] also say this is one of the more interesting tunes I’ve heard his lyrics set to – where Name Unnamed can feel very dull and pedestrian after half a verse, this melody by William Rowan has some […]