Questionable Hymnal Entry

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Hello! I was researching the hymn tune "Trentham" and that led me to a "hymn" called "I am a Terrorist" from "The Secular Hymnal". This seems to be stretching the definitions of a hymn and hymnal very far and I think Hymnary ought to consider removing the whole book. I didn't see anything exactly inappropriate (though there was one instance of slightly vulgar language I found), but I don't think any of the "hymns" are even intended for use by Christians or in a church setting. Really all it does it borrow hymn tunes and set them to secular or political poetry.


Here is another example about Uranium and weapons of war:

Spent our treasure on U two thirty five (man alive!)
Spent our treasure on U two thirty five (man alive!)
Did we decide that schools would all survive and thrive, thrive, thrive?
No. We spent it on U two thirty five (man alive!)

Spent our treasure on brand-new war machines (how obscene!)
Spent our treasure on brand-new war machines (how obscene!)
Was it our dream the helpless would get the means, the means, means, means?
No. We spent it on brand-new war machines (how obscene!)"


If this somehow fits within the guidelines of Hymnary, I apologize. But I just didn't expect to see a "hymn" called "I am a Terrorist"!!


If you look at the Machinists Union Press website ( you will find that there is a distinct worldview expressed in the lyrics.

I looked up the Machinists' Union website, and, while not finding anything "bad", I also found little "good", that is, edifying. Paul tells us to sing "with grace in your hearts to the Lord." If singing is to be to the the Lord, aren't these secular "hymns" useless for that purpose? I don't believe that we should sing only and exclusively hymns, but finding such a "hymnal" on a website dedicated exclusively to hymns is a little disturbing. If a chance person were to find such a work on Hymnary, it could also give the impression that Hymnary condones and approves of appropriating hymn tunes for whatever message the world chooses to put to them.

Yes, this hymnal is very odd. I encountered sometime last year. I really don't see why it is on Hymnary as the songs listed aren't hymns.

I'm glad to see I'm not alone in my thoughts about this. If we include everything that calls itself a hymnal, where do we draw the line? My assumption is that Hymnary is just for Christian hymns, but other religions of course have music they also call hymns. So what happens if someone tries to submit Hindu or Islamic hymns, for example? Simply having a worldview is not at all a good enough reason to include a submission to this site or it will quickly devolve into chaos.

I believe there is a certain amount of Jewish hymnody (not to mention of course the sizable number of metrical psalm texts that have not been "Christianized" à la Watts) in the database, and some of this may date back to the DNAH period. I believe there is also at least one Buddhist hymnal that has been indexed here. Personally, since much of my interest is academic (which is what DNAH served) and also to some extent interfaith, I find these non-Christian (or at least not overtly Christian) items to be of value, which also goes for the contents of The Secular Hymnal. FWIW. I think it would be better to shield the user from such materials in the newer "sister sites" like

Seeing that The Secular Hymnal is no longer with us (and I see nothing about its removal in the comments above). I'm wishing I'd kept a copy of its spreadsheet. For the study of the use of hymn tunes (as well as for nonreligious singing contexts) it is a useful item. I have a copy of the physical book, but for certain purposes (particularly hymn tune use analysis) the spreadsheet could be of great value.

No, the hymnal was deleted

This is an area where I really prefer Wikipedia's approach to deletion. Maybe Secretary Michael or whatever his name is has a copy he'll share.