Academic journal article The Hymn

Garden of Joy

Academic journal article The Hymn

Garden of Joy

Article excerpt

Garden of Joy by Dan Damon. Carol Stream, IL: Hope, 2011. 35 hymns. ISBN 1-933710-09-8. $9.95.

Dan Damon is a pastor, performing musician, hymnwriter, and composer. His latest collection, Garden of Joy, demonstrates many of his musical, pastoral, and poetic gifts.

Damon's texts show a keen pastoral sensitivity. His hymns address contemporary needs in a biblical and thought-provoking way, while avoiding complicated words or syntax. "God, we praise you for the women," expands the scope of Mother's Day to celebrate grandmothers, adoptive mothers, and women too young or old to bear children. In "Out of joy and out of need" the congregation sings that they gather "as your people/drawn by custom or by creed /to minaret or steeple." This text does not name God directly, allowing it serve a wider variety of believers. It invites Christians and Muslims to reflect on what they have in common.

Damon has a knack for finding a proper affect for any text. His Christmas text "Shepherds and angels" juxtaposes list after list to express the wonder of the Christ's birth. It is set to his tune, Sutter Buttes, which has an air of almost breathless excitement. His "Love knocks and waits for us to hear" is set in the style of a bossa nova, giving an insistent energy to the text. From unison songs to ostinato chants to jazzflavored melodies, Damon shares an eclectic array of styles within this collection.

Damon's first published hymn, "Eternal Christ, you rule," appears revised in this collection, and includes ideas of pain, rejection, and loneliness. …

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