We sang Father Abraham in church school chapel on Sunday. (Here’s a YouTube video for the uninitiated. There are a bunch of them.) The Associate Pastor who usually does chapel and is very conscientious about gender issues (he says he was almost denied ordination at the last minute after going through all the PC(USA) hoops because he refused to use masculine pronouns for God) was on a retreat with the youth. The church school coordinator took the attitude, “if we can’t sing well, let’s have fun” and led Father Abraham. I didn’t know the Presbyterians even knew that one. Fine. I get the sentiment and I LOVED the song when I was a kid. It’s a good one to get the kids up and moving even if it is kind of inane. You sing it through and each time add a moving body part, so the first time ends with “Right Arm” and through the next chorus one moves ones right arm, then left arm, right foot, left foot, nod your head, turn around, sit down. It’s long and silly and ends with much dizziness and laughter. But we sang it exactly the way we sang it 34 years ago. “Father Abraham had many SONS and many SONS had Father Abraham. I am one of them and so are you so let’s all praise the Lord. Right Arm.” We sing “Good Christians All Rejoice” but Father Abraham still has sons (though if it were in the hymnal it would have been changed). So I didn’t say anything because it wasn’t the time and place, but I was bothered.
This afternoon. Bubble says, “Let’s sing Father Abraham.” I say, “Okay, but let’s say kids instead of sons.” She doesn’t seem to care and we sing “kids” and do the Sunday School Hokey Pokey. When we finish she says, “It would be okay with me if we said ‘sons’.” I said, “Well, it’s not okay with me. When we say sons, do you think it’s talking about you?” Bubble: “No. I’m not a boy.”
That’s what I’m saying. So she’s 4 and she doesn’t really get the song or that it’s trying to say she is a child of Abraham (though I tried to explain). She just thinks it’s fun. But there are too many things that are like that. Still.
On the other hand, at least we weren’t “In the Lord’s Army.”