Week Four Exercise

30 November 2009 / Praying by heart

What does it mean to pray? How might prayer be explained or experienced by people who are not familiar with faith community, with churches?

This week we’re going to be working with a set of seven pop culture songs. My preference is for you to listen to the songs without watching them as music videos, and then to read the lyrics while you listen to them a second time. One reason we’re working with these songs is because for many people they function as prayer in ways that what we might recognize as more traditional prayers do not. So it’s important to try and experience them that way.

I realize, however, that not all of you will own this music. It’s been difficult to figure out an appropriate way to make the songs available via e-reserve, so instead what I’m doing is placing links here to video versions that are online. If you decide to listen to them that way, please don’t watch the video the first or second time through, just listen to the song.

Some questions to consider: How might these songs function as prayer? How might they “mean” for people? What function do biblical texts or metaphors play in them? How does the context in which biblical metaphors emerge, affect the meaning that is made with them? Can you imagine suggesting any of these songs as a form of prayer to someone? Why or why not?

Song 1
Where were you when the world stopped turning?
Written/sung by Alan Jackson, on the album Drive
Lyrics here

Song 2
Ordinary miracle
Sung by Sarah McLachlan, on the soundtrack to Charlotte’s Web
Lyrics here

Song 3
Where is the love?
Written/sung by Blackeyed Peas, on the album Elephunk
Lyrics here

The video can not be accessed via this course page this week, but you can listen to and watch the video at YouTube.

Song 4
My city of ruins
Written/sung by Bruce Springsteen, on the album The Rising
Lyrics here

Song 5
God’s song
Written/sung by Randy Newman, on the album Randy Newman Songbook, Vol. 1
Lyrics here

Song 6
Jesus walks
Written/sung by Kanye West, on the album College Dropout
Lyrics here

Song 7
The story
Written/sung by Brandi Carlile, on the album The Story
Lyrics here