Daily Connector | The relationship of light/dark | Katie Graber

I appreciated Carolyn May and Phil Hart’s exploration of darkness imagery last week, and it reminded me of Joel’s sermon (a while ago!) that interwove the song “Joyful is the Dark.” In screening thousands of songs for Voices Together, I have become all the more aware of how some biblical images are used over and over in Christian songs while others are absent.

Our work on Voices Together text editing included revising some hymn texts to remove negative darkness (for example, “Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee” will say “drive our fear and doubt away” rather than “drive the dark of doubt away”). These small phrases, when repeated in many songs over many years, can add up to shaping our unconscious biases and habits. I recently wrote a blog post, “White as Snow: Race and Church Music,” that explores these ideas in more depth. The essay discusses darkness imagery in Mennonite hymnals, and the relationship of light/dark binaries to our ideas and assumptions about musical styles.

I’m glad to be part of a community that is careful and curious with words and images, that explores metaphors in visual, poetic, and musical arts rather than relying on old repeated -- even worn out -- tropes. Here is a song (not from Voices Together) to carry you into the dark of winter: “The Thick Darkness Where God Dwells” by Steven Thorngate.