It is #2 daughter’s birthday today. She is 22. We will be celebrating in a week or two when she comes home to visit. I can hardly wait.

The Baritone and I are singing a duet this Sunday. “In the Garden.” A cappella. We will slay them.

I do not want to sound crass here. I actually like “In the Garden.” There is nothing wrong with a nice sentimental Edwardian hymn, and our voices are suited to it. It is a favorite of The Baritone’s mother’s. I think that worship can be enhanced by low, popular songs just as much as by grander music. For many people, hearing an old song like this reminds them of attending church with their families or other happy times

We are also working on the amazing “Awakening Chorus,” something I had never heard before. The Baritone kept saying “It’s from The Pirates of Penzance!” It isn’t, but it does have that Gilbert and Sullivan feel. Sullivan actually wrote hymn tunes, of course, most notably “Onward, Christian Soldiers.” If you check out the link, and I hope you will, you have to scroll down to hear it, but it is sprightly enough to be worth a bit of scrolling.

If you know about church music, then you will suspect that we were, at last night’s choir practice, playing around with The Cokesbury Worship Hymnal, one of the most dangerous and controversial books around. The doctrine of election? transubstantiation? the virgin birth? None of these issues gets people riled up the way The Cokesbury does.

This is because it contains all the controversial hymns that modern hymnals have thrown out: the sexist “Rise Up, O Men of God,” the martial “Onward, Christian Soldiers,” the insufferably sappy “Old Rugged Cross.” No old song, however tacky or theologically unsound, has been excluded from this compendium.

People get sentimental about The Cokesbury in the same way that they get sentimental about Dick and Jane. Most churches have a few of them squirreled away somewhere, and the congregation loves them.

The music leaders shudder over them. We want Vaughn Williams and Sibelius, not Fanny Crosby and Chas Gabriel.

Give up this snobbishness. This kind of music makes people happy. Especially when they cry over it. And remember what the kids tell you about their gansta rap — they’re not listening to the lyrics.