Bonhoeffer uses a similar phrase 'worldly Christianity'. It's J Gresham Machen that I want to line up most closely with. See his Christianity and culture here. Having done commentaries on Proverbs (Heavenly Wisdom) and Song of Songs (Heavenly Love), a matching title for Ecclesiastes would be Heavenly Worldliness. For my stance on worldliness, see 3 posts here.

Sankey and Bliss

I recently read the biographies of Ira D Sankey (1840-1898) and P P Bliss (1838-1876). They are both Ambassador reprints from a few years ago. The Sankey is quite brief, it is subtitled The Singer and his song. It is by Helen Rothwell. The one on Bliss is longer and is subtitled Songwriter. It is written for the British market and is by William Guest. Both men worked with D L Moody and were evangelistic singers, composers and compilers. Bliss also wrote words and I have listed some of these elsewhere. Many of their tunes are still in use. As a boy we still used Sankey's Sacred Songs and Solos in our midweek meeting and so I am familiar with some of the hymns that these men and their contemporaries gave the Christian public. Both biographies are written too close to the time of their subjects to warrant any real analysis. I'm not sure what there is of a modern vintage on them and those around them. They were clearly men of faith and orthodox but they were also involved in innovation and I am not sure what I might have been unhappy about at the time. Things have moved on so much by this time it all seems very innocent and uncompromising at this distance. Perhaps things were inadvertently introduced, however, that we could well do without. The Bliss biography contains a surprise element that was not known to me regarding his early death.

2 comments:

Gary Benfold said...

Don't be vague, Gary. Be bold! Tell us what you mean!

Gary Brady said...

I simply mean that while I have no strong objections to their hymns, the two functioned undoubtedly as entertainers. No doubt a preacher can be entertaining too despite himself. I get the impression these men saw the problem but felt they could overcome it. May be they did. There is no NT example of one man (or many) singing to others who remain silent. Sankey seems to have given musical instruments a status they did not have (though even he was loathe to use a pipe organ)