Friday, June 12, 2009

"This" as a Divine Pronoun

I've been doing a practice lately of singing for 15 minutes a day from Worship in Song: A Friends Hymnal, choosing hymns that speak to whatever lessons I'm working on at the time. One that has been of great comfort and inspiration lately is #251, "If Thou But Trust in God to Guide Thee." As with many of the songs in the FGC hymnal, I suspect the words have been changed to eliminate gender bias in reference to the divine.

If thou but trust in God to guide thee,
And place thy confidence within,
God will give strength, whate'er betide thee,
To give thee hope and strength within.

Here, the same word appears as a rhyme with itself, which jars my sensibilities as a songwriter, and leads me to wonder both about the original text and about about what language reflects my own experience of God. "In Him" would make a nice near-rhyme to "within," but doesn't fit my experience. I generally don't mind female or male language for the divine, but my feeling sense of God is as a presence, an energy that is not limited by personification or gender.

So what has come to me to sing is, "And place thy confidence in This." Already, the song feels much stronger to me, a clearer encouragement to trust God to accompany me through any situation. "This," to me, is not the reliance on God's guidance, but a rich pronoun that conveys my sense of God's presence and availability. The initial "th" of "This" shares the familiarity and intimacy of "thee/thou/thy/thine." I think the capitalization works to mark "This" as a divine pronoun, not just any old this-or-that.

How does "This" fit with thy experience?