From my early days in Evangelical Christianity, I always loved religious music and back then one of my favorite hymnals (and still is today) is Redemption Songs. It incorporated the Victorian feeling of joy at the idea of “Jesus” defined as a spirit or Spirit man, entering the human heart and convicting you of your sins, leaving you in a state of mixed emotions, fear, superiority, joy and at times controlled ecstasy. I often wonder how much they knew of Science – clearly nothing by the amount of arguments and politics in these little churches but the songs gave a very clear message that somebody knew something about life changing experiences. Or perhaps just a thing hoped for after death.
It is not hard to see why these hymns were popular, a promise of eternal life – but linked with fear, death and hell rather than anything scientific. It was (at least at the time) the height of human emotion – yet carefully controlled so not to become pentecostal or out of control in some way.
As I get older though, I no longer see the great chasm which once existed in my thought between faith based superstitious religion and science – these old hymns went beyond faith, there was a certain recognition and Presence there which they learnt to trust. I am remembering the words of Lucy Larcom:
The religion of our fathers overhung us children like the shadow of a mighty tree against the trunk of which we rested, while we looked up in wonder through the great boughs that half hid and half revealed the sky. Some of the boughs were already decaying, so that perhaps we began to see a little more of the sky than our elders; but the tree was sound at its heart…
A New England Girlhood.
After all both looked to the Bible for understanding and Jesus as a Spirit with a personality entering your heart in some kind of mysterious way and the recognition or understanding of metaphysical Science can actually be two ways of looking at the same thing. The Bible is used in Science however as largely metaphorical instead of literal. The difference might be in recognizing what is actually your own mind talking to you (the ego) or the awareness of something bigger guiding you into good. It is just getting the starting point right.
The problem with using a Book like the Bible in a scientific experiment of healing is that it has for so long been associated with faith healing and taken completely out of context for hundreds of years. Yet it remains as valuable today to the faithless: who seek hope but in material things, the Faithful: those people who search for mental answers, and the metaphysician: who seeks to demonstrate its Truths..
it is interesting to note that Mrs Eddy spoke about different degrees of the human mind in her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures:
First Degree: Depravity.
Physical. Evil beliefs, passions and appetites, fear,
depraved will, self-justification, pride, envy, Unreality
deceit, hatred, revenge, sin, sickness, disease,
Second Degree: Evil beliefs disappearing.
Moral. Humanity, honesty, affection, compassion, hope, faith, meekness, temperance.
Third Degree: Understanding.
Spiritual. Wisdom, purity, spiritual understanding,
Reality spiritual power, love, health, holiness.
In the third degree mortal mind disappears, and man as
God’s image appears.
This essentially means that the Bible can be viewed across these three spectrums meeting people where they are mentally. In the first degree the Bible offers no real hope and is treated as superstition, in the second degree the Bible offers hope but only as far as your own beliefs allow by virtue of a compromise with God and in the third degree we see unconditional Love which heals as a by product.
One of the songs from this hymnal demonstrates my point:
Here are the words (and potential scientific interpretation and demonstration ):
1 By Samaria’s wayside well,
Once a blessed message fell (Love is reflected in Love)
On a woman’s thirsty soul,
Long ago; (Ever Present)
And to eyes that long were sealed
Was the glorious light revealed, (the illumination of Spiritual Truth)
Through a fountain that was opened
Long ago. (the removal of time as a measurement of material history)
Refrain: There’s a fountain that was opened
For the healing of the nations is its flow; (Displacement of Physical borders)
Along the lines of ages,
The prophets and the sages
Caught the singing of the waters,
2 And a little captive maid,
By a leper undismayed,
Told to him a simple story,
Long ago; (Feeding the famished affections)
That the stream where he might lave
Had alone the pow’r to save,
Through his trust in that old fountain,
Long ago. [Refrain]
3 As the eunuch tied to read,
Philip taught him of his need, (Spiritual vision)
And baptized him in the stream,
As the outward seal and sign
Of an inward work divine, (Thy Kingdom is come)
That was wrought through that old fountain,
Long ago. [Refrain]
4 O thou fountain, deep and wide,
Flowing from the wounded side (demonstration)
That was pierced for our redemption,
In thy ever-cleansing wave
There is found all pow’r to save; (Heal)
‘Tis the pow’r that healed the nations,
Long ago. [Refrain]
It is very clear to see how certain words in this Hymn could be described as scientific despite people taking the lyrics as literal in the 19th and 20th centuries. In many ways I wonder why we didn´t see that all those years ago. In order to answer that question we would need to examine this hymn in light of the degrees mentioned above and assign scientific meanings to some of these words.
I am enclosing the piano music in case you feel like a tune. The whole hymnal can be found here