Elan Morgan is a writer and web designer who works from Elan.Works, a designer and editor at GenderAvenger, and a speaker who has spoken across North America. They believe in and work to grow both personal and professional quality, genuine community, and meaningful content online.

#606: THAT GOOD OLD CHRISTIAN HYMN

Seeing the number of this entry puts an old Mennonite hymn into my brain. It's one that all good Mennonites know. It is usually referred to simply as Hymn Six-Oh-Six in church, which is what number it was in the old brown hymnals, or it is referred to as the Doxology if we are going to sing it as a prayer before a meal, but its proper name is Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow. I left the good old religion years ago, but that hymn still gets me in the back of the gut.

For some reason, when I used to sing hymns, my throat and the roof of my mouth would ache, and sometimes I had a difficult time making it through if we sang two selections in a row. Hymn 606, though, never hurt me. I discovered this when I was in a touring choir at a Mennonite boarding school. We had to sing Hymn 606 over and over and over to perfect the timing and four-part harmony across forty-one individual voices. I was sure that I would have to drop out and mouth the words to look active, but the pain never came. We spent the better part of an evening singing its verses again and again, and my throat never once constricted. Hymn 606 was apparently the miracle hymn, or at least the one that didn't cause me physical pain, and every time I had a chance to sing it after that, I belted that fucker out with gusto. It was like eating good food, that hymn. I still sing it in the shower.

(The following link includes audio.)
Praise God, from Whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye heavenly host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

I am hoping that we sing the Doxology over the holidays when the Palinode and I go to Cosmopolis. Being a Mennonite family, my people don't sing in that flat, bored fashion I've heard elsewhere. They do it up right in four-part harmony with people singing different words at the same time and staggering their breaths at different intervals. Mennonites traditionally don't dance or drink, so stuff like Hymn 606 can be fantastically moving, even if you don't believe the myths anymore.

I put that song up there with hearing the Messiah. Have you ever heard the Messiah? I had the joy of singing that in a five-hundred-and-one voice choir in an opera hall once, and I seriously just about fell off my riser with the joy of it, and I would have if a tenor behind me hadn't grabbed my shoulders. Hymn 606 is way shorter, but it has that same feeling, like you're yelling at the top of your lungs about how freaking awesome it is to exist, only very melodically, and for some reason the music makes you believe it, even if you were busy being a misanthropic fuckwad only moments before you started.

Despite my atheism, even just writing about Hymn 606 is killing my recent spate of misanthropy, and that is fan-fucking-tastic, because when in need, a song can be pulled out anywhere.

What is your Hymn 606? Is it little ducks paddling in a row? Really big fires? Model railroads?