News And Media Releases

Replacing the songs of David Haas

This article originally appeared as a part of the MCUSA series on Voices Together.

 

ways to singBy Katie Graber, Sarah Kathleen Johnson, Anneli Loepp Thiessen

 

MennoMedia released a statement on Tuesday: in response to credible accusations of sexual abuse and spiritual manipulation by the hymn writer and composer David Haas, the committee compiling Voices Together has removed his songs from consideration.

While these songs will not be included in the new hymnal available this fall, five songs by David Hass are in Sing the Journey (STJ) and Sing the Story (STS) and others are sung in Mennonite congregations. These include beloved songs “My Soul Is Filled with Joy,” “I Will Come to You in the Silence,” “Peace Before Us,” “Blest are They,” “We Are Called” and “Come and Be Light.”

Many communities are choosing not to sing these songs to prevent possible harm and to act in solidarity with survivors of abuse who are likely in their midst. Determining whether or how to continue singing these songs requires difficult community conversations with substantial leadership from survivors of abuse. Many communities will be best served by choosing not to sing these songs at this time.

We grieve the loss of these beloved songs, and at the same time we recognize that other songs occupy similar musical, affective, and theological territory. We know there are intangible aspects that cannot truly be replaced, but we offer the following lists to recommend alternatives that cover comparable theological themes in related musical styles. Links to recordings are provided for songs that are not in current Mennonite collections. Pending permissions, many of these songs will be included in Voices Together; we expect to release a full list of contents sometime in August.

 

“My Soul is Filled with Joy” has a text based on the Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55), and the tune is an Irish melody called WILD MOUNTAIN THYME.

  • Musical settings of the Magnificat
    • My Soul Proclaims with Wonder (Hymnal: A Worship Book [HWB] 181) by Carl Daw and J. Harold Moyer
    • My Soul Cries Out (STS 124) by Rory Cooney
    • WILD MOUNTAIN THYME arranged by other composers
    • Spirit, Open My Heart (OneLicense #20093) by Ruth Duck and congregational setting by Daniel Charles Damon (here is a choral arrangement by Alfred Fedak)

 

“Peace Before Us” is based on a Navajo prayer that has resonances with the imagery of St. Patrick’s prayer.

  • Themes of being surrounded by the love and peace of Christ
    • Christ Be All Around Me (CCLI #7016414) by David Leonard, Jack Mooring, Leeland Mooring, and Leslie Jordan
    • God, Be the Love (OneLicense #16018) by Richard Bruxvoort Colligan
    • Go, My Friends, in Grace (STS 57) by David Wright and James Clemens
  •  Short songs accessible to children, some of which introduce a new meditative word to form additional verses.
    • Your Love is Washing Over Me (not on OneLicense yet), by Jaylene Johnson
    • He Came Down (STJ 31), Cameroon Traditional, arr. John Bell
    • Don’t be afraid (STJ 105) by John Bell
  • Songs with connections to Indigenous communities

 

“I Will Come To You In the Silence” draws on Isaiah 43 and a gentle folk musical sound to affirm a close personal relationship with God.

 

“Blest Are They” is a musical setting of the Beatitudes (found in Matthew 5:1-12 and Luke 6:20-26) in a style that is known as Catholic folk.

  • Musical settings of the Beatitudes
    • Blessed Are You (OneLicense #102130, you can hear this song in a video about halfway through this article) by Adam Tice and Benjamin Brody
    • Blessed Are the Persecuted (HWB 230) Tonga traditional, adapt. Ester Bergen

 

“Come and be Light” and “We Are Called” are high energy songs that call us to work for justice.

  • Calls to act for justice in a similar musical language
    • The Lord Is My Light (STJ 97) by Lillian Bouknight
    • God of Justice (CCLI #4447128) by Tim Hughes
    • Beauty for Brokenness (STS 115) by Graham Kendrick
    • Will You Come and Follow Me (STS 39) by John Bell and Graham Maule,
    • Scottish traditional, arr. Lloyd Kauffman
    • Longing for Light (STJ 54) by Bernadette Farrell
    • God of the Bible (STJ 27) by Shirley Erena Murray and Tony E. Alonso

 

Additional composers who write in related musical styles:

 

Posted on: July 6th, 2020 by Voices Together Hymnal

11 Responses

  1. Wilma Harder says:

    Thanks for the suggestions! I also have used “Now I Walk in Beauty” for the Navajo prayer. Here is a recording by Claudia Schmidt and Sally Rogers, along with another song “Hey hey Watenay”.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c0PFFLZIHvk

  2. Daniel Davis says:

    Thank you so very much! Having alternatives for the Haas songs will assist in refocusing on the message of the scriptures and on healing the wounds brought about by losing songs that have become like close dear friends.

  3. Weldon Friesen says:

    God’s spirit works to inspire imperfect individuals, and their songs, stories, works of art, and poetic lines continue to inspire others independent of the character flaws and behavior of the author. I think that music needs to be appreciated and sung based on the merits of the piece itself, and appreciated for the way it resonates with an individual’s experience of God’s spirit. I feel deeply for the women whose trust has been betrayed, and whose lives have been forever changed or hurt. I can understand why they would be unable to sing David’s music in the future. However I am not certain that removing his music from the hymnal, and, by anticipated intent, from individual and public appreciation, serves justice to the pieces themselves. What would our book of Psalms look like if we were to strike out all of David’s psalms because of his affair with Bath Sheba.

    • Voices Together Hymnal says:

      Dear Weldon,
      Thank you for sharing your thoughts on the question of whether we might separate a song from its creator. Your point that survivors of sexual trauma “would be unable to sing [Haas’] music in the future” is true. We are not comfortable asking survivors to opt out so that others can keep these songs in circulation. We believe hearing or singing these songs can retraumatize. Our primary accountability is not to do justice to a song, but to do right by worshipers with whom we are in relationship.

      Like you, I am not ready to strike out wisdom literature that has shaped centuries of Judeo Christian thought and practice. But we can lament, can’t we, wisdom literature we have been deprived of because men’s voices (however morally bankrupt) have been amplified while women’s voices have been so often silenced. In contrast to a Biblical David, Haas is living and participating in shared economies and platforms.

      Bradley Kauffman, General Editor
      Voices Together

    • Thanks you Weldon for your thoughts. You have put into words many of my feelings. Many of us who appreciate those songs have now had them taken away as a choice by virtue of “credible accusation.” I, too, regret and feel badly for those who were hurt. There are many who benefited from the message of the songs themselves for whom the author had no relevance.

  4. Jane Doe (not my real name as many of my close friends do not know of my situation) says:

    I appreciate everyone’s comments to this situation. I don’t know if this the appropriate space for this conversation, but as a victim of molestation at a very young age and a child experiencing the same at a “sleep over” I would like to offer these words. These songs were friends and appreciated by myself until this discovery of character. Now when I hear them I want to cry and throw up at the same time. And, if played at my church, I would not be able to worship as I would like to. And please do not analyze me. I have forgiven. My congregation, at this time, has chosen to use other meaningful music which there is plenty of. And, when someone else approaches us in the congregation about any other song that they find hurtful, we can address that situation as well. Also, with everyone probably not disposing of their old hymnals and supplements, congregations that choose to can still use those songs if it is appropriate for them. I applaud the Voices Together team for their thoughtfulness. Thank you.

  5. Marie says:

    So now we have to be perfect before our work is considered good? We should stop singing altogether then, because all of our hymns were written by sinners.

  6. i WOULD SAY ‘ BAN THE OLD’ OF HIS…THE HOLY SPIRIT WILL MAKE ALL THINGS NEW AND EVEN BETTER AND FOCUS ON THAT AND BE FRESH AND RENEWED IN HIM. LET THE OTHER GO! AMEN. JMJ

  7. Disappointed “Amazing Grace” didn’t make the list. It contains the expression, “grace appeared the moment I first believed.” I thought grace first appears at Baptism.

  8. Howard says:

    What a shame the Church does not have a heritage of two thousand years from which to draw hymns. Oh well, if Tantum Ergo Sacramentum and even O God Our Help in Ages Past are not for you, maybe you can just tweak the lyrics to some Gordon Lightfoot songs:
    \”Sometimes I think it\’s a shame
    When a plank in my eyeball
    Means I can\’t give no blame.\”
    Or maybe Jimmy Buffett:
    \”Some people claim
    That it\’s the devil to blame,
    But I know … it\’s my own damn fault.\”

  9. Tad says:

    As I recall Haas went after Archbishop Chaput over so called gay marriage when Chaput criticized the Supreme Court decision. I wonder why Haas was upset?? His music was cheesy. It was low quality sentimental garbage. Music use to be high qualtiy then they started to pump out music like factories. I am sorry, good music takes time to write. Most of the music at Mass is terrible. The sentimental stuff makes people emote but does help build real Faith. Real Faith is not emotion, but solid, rock, tough.

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