Sunday, June 13, 2010

Present danger

Finish this sentence from a classic hymn, concentrating especially on the next noun you're going to use.
"Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were ..."
You're an intelligent reader (look around you on screen: QED) and doubtless went for "an offering far too small." Which is the right answer. Well done. I won't insult you by reminding you that this is of course the last verse of "When I survey the wondrous cross", and it finishes:
"Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my life, my soul, my all."
Oh, drat.

Sadly, you are not the fool who wrote the version displayed in church this morning that would have it as "... a present far too small."

A present? A present? Can you honestly not tell the difference between a present, a token exchanged between friends, and an offering, a sacrificial presentation with the potential range to include absolutely everything you have? Who gives God presents? (Apart from these guys.) Can you not see what Isaac Watts was trying to say? Can you really not?

Anyhoo. I'm very glad to report that the congregation was far more old school than I would usually have given them credit for and most seemed to sing "offering" too. As it should be.

Present. Honestly!


  1. This web page suggests that 'Present' was the original word and 'offering' a newer version.

    The writers opinion is "An offering is something that is required of us it is our duty, our reponsibility. A present is an expression of love and is given rather than exacted as a tribute." However I prefer your explanation - but this means I'm singing a more modern version...

  2. Well, well, you live and learn! Of course, the wording wouldn't have changed in the first place if people hadn't preferred "offering", doubtless agreeing with my interpretation, as they should.

  3. 'offering' seems more in keeping with the whole 'cough up or burn, sucker' vibe (runs and hides behind the sofa).


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