Tuesday, October 11, 2011

There is a CIty

Okay, so I'm writing this lyric. It's kind of a love song to a city - the new Jerusalem. I've referred to the city as 'She'. Would you be comfortable singing it?  

There is a city
where we belong
ever unchanging
foundations strong
In every battle
To her I cling
Her laws are my laws
Her king is my king
There is a city
That can not fall
My heart is held there 
safe in her walls
Though I can’t see her
She is my home
Her hopes are my hopes
Her king is my own
Lift high her flag
Her anthem raise
Loud hallelujahs
and shouts of praise 
“Worthy, worthy
the lamb once slain!
Honour and glory 
to his name!” 

sar 2011


  1. I wouldn't be comfortable.

    Is the church referred to as a she? Whenever I hear people call it "she" I inwardly cringe. But maybe I need correcting.

  2. I'm not calling the church 'she'. I'm calling Jerusalem 'she' - which the bible does often - Ps46:5, Revelation 21:11 etc.

    But I'm making excuses. WWBS*? 'Don't defend your lyric. Come up with a better lyric.'

    *What would Bob say?

  3. Alistair - the church is described as a bride; that means that if you want to be part of it, you have to accept your 'female side' - much in the same way that you may expect women to accept calling themselves by the masculine gender (as in 'sons of God'). :-)

  4. So getting back to your question, Simone - no, I wouldn't have trouble singing about the new Jerusalem as a 'she'; if that's what you think would make people uncomfortable.

    However, I would probably have trouble with "In every battle, to her I cling" as I'm not clinging to the new Jerusalem but to Christ, her bridegroom.

  5. Just don't think I can do it easily... I'd rather be singing about Jesus and being with Him. Will we have the law in heaven? Does heaven have hopes?
    Sorry - you shouldn't have mentioned the 70's on our flight back...
    Sarah is a black sheep (obviously)

  6. A new lyric, post-synod :)

    Yes, of course, Zion is a she. Seems straightforward enough. I'd have serious problems if you'd gone for 'he' or even 'it'.

    And it's an interesting idea. Glorious Things of Thee are Spoken is a favourite hymn for its flexibility among other things - it fits in well in all sorts of places. I suspect you'd find this ticks enough boxes too, for similar reasons.

    Other comments, of the unsolicited variety... the variations in the metre in the last line - given the economy with which you communicate in most lines, to my mind it'd be easy to have 'her king, my king' borrow the 'is' from the line above, and 'her king, my own'.

    Random tweak ideas- the 'we' in the second line is the only plural...is 'I' better?; 'through ev'ry battle'?; I think I prefer 'hope' to 'hopes' each time; 'Great (bold?) shouts of praise' rather than the 'and' - it's the only time you blow a syllable on a conjunction; and yeah, I'm not sure about the clinging either.

    Not that I have any great solutions. 'Her armies sing'? 'And - um - something'? (Not).

  7. I wonder if you never asked the question, and just taught the song, whether anyone would notice. I can't think of a song I already sing that refers to the church or Jerusalem with feminine pronouns, but I'm not at all confident to say that I'm therefore not already doing it

  8. Simone. I repent. But why isn't 46:4-7 about the Church as well as Jerusalem and the new heavens/earth? Am I adding a step in here that you don't think I should be?

    Hi Laetitia. I don't quite see your point here. I'm not sure that a call to belong to the church is a call to accept my female side. I think it's a call to become part of a body of believers that is loved in the same way that a bride is loved by her perfect groom.

    And when all believers, male and female, are described as the sons of God I'm thinking "inheritance" rather then "gender." Which is why I wouldn't call a Christian woman "he."

  9. Peter - I didn't mention the gender thing to the first 4 people I showed it to. They all mentioned it. But I think that if it were presented at church with a pretty tune, people would probably just take it in their stride. But they might not like the song that much - even if they never actually identified what it is they didn't like about it.

    Al - Repentance is good, as a rule. I think it is a step to think church. The 'she' in psalm 46 is a city - Jerusalem.

  10. I have looked at this a few times today (too much spare time on my hands at the moment....) and wasn't sure if I had anything specific to comment on. So I wasn't going to say anything. But I didn't feel all that excited about it (sorry, hope that's not too harsh) and couldn't really say why...as you've just commented yourself. And I think some guys, like my husband maybe, might be uncomfortable with singing the female pronouns. Although obviously that's not true for all men.
    Hmmm.....maybe I should have just kept quiet :)

  11. I don't have a problem with the 'she' but the idea of a song praising the new Jerusalem doesn't do much for me. I am keen on being there but because God is going to be there and because he's preparing it for us. I know that's kind of pointed to in the song - "her laws are.. her king is..." But still. I feel odd singing about my passion for the new Jerusalem as opposed to my passion for God himself. I dunno ..... that could be just an error on my part. Are we suppose to yearn for the new Jerusalem??

  12. @ Deb: Of course! Don't you look forward to going home to be with Christ (and his people)?

  13. I love it! If you're singing about a city you of course, have to use "she" or "it" it's ungrammatical in English to say "he". And because it's a love song about a place, then it make sense to personify her a little and call her "she".

    Regarding the comments about yearning for and clinging to the new Jerusalem: I understand the new Jerusalem to mean the new creation: Absolutely we yearn for it, I do every time I deny myself a good pleasure for Jesus sake, or when I choose a life path which will glorify him but be more difficult in the immediate future, one way I console myself is by thinking about the new creation and what wonderful things God will have stored up for us there. I cling to the hope of the new Jerusalem.

    For what it's worth, I won't have a problem singing "lift high her flag, her anthem raise" either, I assume that the anthem is the next bit in quotes - it's all about Jesus. (And I wonder what her flag would look like? A cross? A fish? A lamb? A sun and a lamp?...)

    Thanks Simone for your thought provoking and encouraging lyrics.

  14. Thanks Donna. Very encouraging. Yes - the anthem is all about Jesus. I was tossing up between 'Holy' and 'Worthy'. I think 'worthy' is it. I've been imagining the flag. Lion and lamb?

  15. @ Anthony
    Yes, I do long to be home with Christ. I do long to see the new creation and the effects of sin banished forever. But I don't know that I yearn for the city as such. I guess in my mind's eye, I don't think about the PLACE so much as the benefits of that place. I don't think of my heart as hid in the new Jerusalem - I think of it as hid with Christ. And I don't cling to the idea of the new Jerusalem in battle. I cling to Christ by faith. Maybe that's just splitting hairs.

  16. Hey Simone, good to see you're still firing after the TWIST marathon stress bubble.

    "Twelve Gates to the City" is one of my favourite spirituals so this pricked my ears up. I made people sing it at my church for a little while - not sure if they liked it as much as I did but they didn't complain.

    I like the short lines, they give it a really tight, compacted feel.

    I wouldn't have a problem with "she" but then I don't have a problem with referring to God as "she" so don't listen to me.

    I think what this song lacks, though, is visuals. The description of the New Jerusalem is overflowing with visual and numerical symolism - the 12 gates, twelve trees, the river of life, the jewels, God being its light and so on. I know it's all complicated but to sing about the New Jerusalem I would really want to be able to picture it. Your short lines would be ideal for it because you could suggest a picture in a few words.

  17. I think the lack of excitement I was feeling about it was along the lines of Deb's argument.
    Sorry if that seems critical :(