This past weekend my family was on the road with . me, as I had a number of speaking engagements in another state. We visited a church near where we were staying. During the Sunday morning service, the congregation sang “O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing.” It’s a hymn that I confess that I used to like. But I just couldn’t get past the last verse we were asked to sing:
Hear Him, ye deaf; His praise, ye dumb,
Your loosened tongues employ;
Ye blind, behold your Savior come,
And leap, ye lame, for joy.
I’m growing tired of church lyrics being examples of what Amos Yong calls ‘normate biases’–” the unexamined prejudices that non-disabled people have toward disabilities and toward people that have them.” The subtext here–which really isn’t very subtle at all–is that in order to properly praise God, one can’t be deaf or non-verbal or bling or unable to walk….
I wish instead we had sung something more like this:
Ye blind, ye deaf, autistics too;
forgive our sins of pride.
We’ve shown in deed we love you less,
And pushed your worth aside.