At a recent rehearsal, one of my singers commented on this lyric from one of our songs:
For we who are a chosen race are holy, yet still seek …
What is the message for an all-white choir to be singing this phrase? I explained the 1 Peter 2:9 reference has its own context, lifted from a few Old Testament references. But dropped into the middle of a song that includes other Biblical references, it occurred to me my singer had made a strong point.
What do you think? Is “Chosen race” something to be avoided in the current American climate? Or a lot of fuss about something not too important?
Hard to evaluate with that phrase in isolation. It seems to be an unripe paraphrase.
To be holy is to be set apart for God – it’s a purpose, not a statement of current moral condition, though a person who is living in full alignment with the will of Divine Providence partakes of that dimension of holiness. That’s the context of holiness for “chosen race”, but it’s obscured heavily in that paraphrase snippet (unlike in its reference source material), and instead sounds more like a boast of our current moral condition, which which context “race” has a pernicious prideful connotation.
Reminds me a bit of unripe versification in the third line of the refrain of “Sing a New Church”
“sing a new church into being”
would be much stronger in lucid lyric (how does one sing anything “into being”?) and theology with something more like:
“sing as one church in Christ’s Body”
One of the banes of modern copyright is that it makes it much less likely that unripe versification can be improved through the lapidary of regular use over time the way the texts of giants such as Isaac Watts and the Wesley family were. In today’s context, it becomes simpler to drop things from the repertoire.