Hymning the (Difficult) Text

Biblical TextMatthew 10:34-42
Guidelines for Individual
Note: This is a “repeat” playdate (with modifications) of the playdate, “Hymning the Text.”

Value of This Activity:

Writing lyrics pushes our minds into a different form of thought than when we are trying to explain a text logically. Writing lyrics to a hymn-tune presses our thought into a metric (measured) pattern. Sometimes we discover things when we are “forced” into a pre-determined pattern.

Items Needed:

Bible. Pen and Paper. Hymnal, if available.

To Begin . . .

Spend a moment in quiet prayer. If you wish, begin by freewriting for 3-5 minutes. Just let the pen empty out your concerns and thanksgiving for the day. Breathe.

How to Play . . .

  1. Read Matthew 10:34-42.
  2. Make a list of four key themes or elements in this text. These are not necessarily easy thoughts. (Hence the word “difficult” in the title of this Playdate!) Freewrite on those themes or elements that you find particularly difficult. Explore them — in your own experience. Explore the difficulty.
  3. Either using a hymnal or your own memory, select a hymn tune that you know well. A simple hymn will be easiest to use for this exercise. Sing or hum the hymn aloud to yourself a couple of times through so you have the tune and the rhythm of the hymn firmly in your mind.

    Some example hymn-tunes to use: “All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name,” “Blest Be the Tie that Binds,” The Doxology, “Holy, Holy, Holy,” “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing,” “Let Us Break Bread Together,” “Faith of Our Fathers” (!)

  4. Using the hymn tune you selected in Step 3, write four verses for that selected tune using the one of the key themes or elements from Step 2, above, for each verse of your new hymn.

    Use the same meter (beats per line) and rhyme structure of the hymn if you can. You do not need to maintain any of the original hymn-text’s words or emphases. You are writing a wholly new hymn-text, just using the hymn-tune.The field is wide open here! If the text is a narrative, replay some or all of the narrative in your verse. If the text uses imagery or metaphors, build a verse around just those metaphors. You do not have to replicate the biblical text, simply use the text to trigger your mind into reflection.Feel free to make big mistakes. Just play with it. Get it wrong. Get it right. Neither of those things matter. Play with the words, the images, the ideas. Press those words, images, ideas into the shape of the hymn-tune.

  5. Close by singing your new hymn!

In Closing . . .

Take a moment to breathe and let the playtime settle around you. Carry your curiosity and insights and questions into the day.

Playdate Reference Material:

Poetry As a Mode of Thought
Guidelines for Individual Playdates
Playdates with Scripture ARCHIVES

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Playdates with Scripture by Virginia Wiles is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at virginiawiles.com.