A Note on Hymn/Song Language

I often use the term "love" rather than the term "God" to make my hymns more inclusive. Feel free to replace "love" with "God" (or "God" with "love" where relevant), or to make other textual changes to allow the hymns to speak to (and be sung by) as diverse a set of people as possible.

I have recently updated some hymns to address unintentionally ableist language. There are two kinds of language use that I have left in place after much reflection. The song/hymn Everything Remains refers to "our vision" but the phrase really addresses our calling rather than our sight, so I have kept the original intact. Similarly, my Christmas folk song Welcome to the Manger refers at one point to having new sight and finally being able to see something; since this refers to understanding rather than vision, I have left it in place. Several hymns (Blessed Are the Poor, The Manger Is Stranger, Once Jesus Loved a Rich Man, Shake the Dust Off Your Sandals) refer to "having ears to hear." In this case, I have kept the original language in place because I believe that as Jesus used this phrase it was less about hearing in a strictly auditory sense and more about understanding, being open and receptive, and being willing to be transformed. Feel free to modify this language in your use of these hymns in ways that work for you. My goal is always to maximize joy, love, compassion, gratitude, and courage to transform the world; please sing these hymns in ways that make that goal meaningful for you.

I have also updated one hymn that mischaracterized leaven (yeast) as "impure." Jewish scholarship shows clearly that this characterization of leaven is simplistic and may carry unintended anti-Jewish stereotypes with it.

The Christmas lullaby The Manger is Stranger has slightly different text in the score and the recording. The recording reflects the earlier language "wise men," which has been replaced in the score with "magi."

I have been granted permission to share a beautiful document about using expansive language in the Mennonite hymnal Voices Together. Please consider reading it: "Expansive Language in Voices Together."