Religion: Hymn Battles

Tuning the Methodist songbook

O beautiful for pilgrim feet,

Whose stern, impassioned stress

A thoroughfare for freedom beat

Across the wilderness!

These lines from America the Beautiful were doubtless sung at many a Protestant service over the July 4 weekend, along with the verses of another warhorse, the Battle Hymn of the Republic ("Mine eyes have seen the glory . . ."). But at least one group of church officials has deemed these traditional words unfit for use in worship. Earlier this year a committee preparing a new hymnal for the United Methodist Church voted to delete the lines from the volume. Native Americans, they...

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