Sunday, October 25, 2009

A Poetry Prompt for Reformation Sunday

Today, Lutherans and other Protestants across the globe will gather to sing those good, old-fashioned hymns. And most of us will have no idea that many of those tunes were not composed for the hymn lyrics. Lutheran legend has it that Luther used drinking songs and folk music tunes for his hymns.

That idea makes me wonder what's possible for us today. We seem to have lost the idea of popular music, a song that everyone will be able to sing, even if they lyrics are different.

Or have we? If Luther was alive today, would he use advertising jingles? Would he use the tunes from songs that we learn as children, like the Barney song? Can we count on all children in a geographical area learning the same songs? Are there songs that we all know?

What would happen to our poetry if we set it to music? Even if we don't have that musical knowledge required to write music, we can borrow the tunes of others.

If it worked for Martin Luther, it could work for us!

Seriously, it's a fun way to work in form and a great way to memorize our poems, if ever we need to do that. And since so many songs utilize rhyme, it gives us a chance to flex our rhyming muscles. Who knows where this journey might take us. We might compose songs that later schoolchildren will sing, a song like "This Land Is Your Land," a song with radical origins (thank you Woody Guthrie) that will be completely lost on children as they sing it.

Now that would be a legacy!

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