Rhythms of Praises

Article excerpt

Rhythms of praises by James Hart Brumm. Colfax, North Carolina: Wayne Leopold Editions, 2009. 98 pp. ISBN: 978-1-881162-32-2, US $16.25.

At the heart of the pastor/preacher's call to ministry is finding die right words for the right situation. In Rhythms of praises, James Brumm presents a collection of hymns whereby he attempts "to respond to certain situations in poetic terms" (viii).

Brumm, a pastor and teacher in the Reformed Church in America, must be commended for addressing timely and difficult topics in his hymnody. The first hymn of the collection, "Abram walked the faithful way," attests to the sinfulness, rather than the heroism, of Old Testament heroes Abram, David, and Elijah. Other hymns lift up the themes of anger, terrorism, and homelessness.

As a homilist, Brumm strives to fill hymnic gaps, not only in subject matter, but also in the lectionary cycle. In company with hymnwriters such as Hermann Stuempfle, FHS, Brumm writes hymns to fit specific biblical texts or characters (there is a hymn on the disciple Andrew and one on Naomi, for example). Of course, this approach has its strengths and limitations. While such specificity may supply apt words in a situation, the specificity limits their use. An exception may be "Jesus journeyed to the quiet." The hymn's source is Mark 1:32-38, die Gospel text for Year B, Epiphany 5, yet it could serve the wider theme of spiritual reflection.

Brumm states in the preface that he is attempting to find die rhytlim between his roles as pastor and hymnwriter. It is clear to this reviewer that the accent leans on die pastoral side. The hymns are rich thematically and daring poetically, but somewhat utilitarian and quite homiletical. A number of hymn texts include odd rhymes that seem forced to this reader. …