Hymns: Introduction

In my life, I’ve learned and come to love some great hymns. But in the circles in which I mostly move nowadays, except for my immediate family, hymns are rarely sung, with only a few exceptions: one hymn in a service (invariably called a “great old hymn” even if it’s only late-19th-century, and rarely dating from earlier than 1850, let alone 1800) so as to avoid the criticism of “never singing hymns”; a hymn that’s been made a (usually small) part of a “chorus”; one that’s fairly recently hit the Christian pop charts in a “retuned” version (adding a refrain that’s given greater emphasis than any of the verses, for example); a few perfunctory hymns on “major holidays” (except for Christmas, when the carols are essentially always the same but are hardly “perfunctory”—but with “major holidays” including far more civil holidays than liturgical ones); and so on.

In this, as in many things, my instinct is toward conservatism in the Chestertonian sense (Chesterton said a conservative is one who “stands athwart History yelling ‘Stop!'”): our ancestors have given us, in hymnody, a vast wealth of glorious music and edifying verse (amid an even vaster quantity of merely pedestrian verse and less-inspired tunes, it must be admitted), so I see no good reason to abandon it all in favor of the merely new. This is not to say that nothing new is any good; there are several recent Christian artists whose work I’m very fond of, a few songs from the last few generations that I’ll admit as hymns (though, like “folk music,” I’d tend to say that in general nothing very recent should go in that category yet, as it hasn’t been through the “folk” or “hymn” “process” yet), and some quite recent “retuned” versions of hymns that I prefer to the traditional or original tunes. (I’m grateful to Greg Scheer, minister of worship at what was my “home church” while I was in college, for pointing me to the Cardiiphonia project.)

So I’m beginning a new series of posts here on this blog. In the coming months, on occasion (about once a month, I hope), I’ll give you a hymn I’m fond of, accompanied by some of my thoughts about (and sparked by) it.


Hi! I’m Jonathan Lovelace, an aspiring author, self-published poet, amateur game designer, technical writer, and software developer. Welcome to the Shine Cycle Online!

From 2010 through mid-2014, I tried to feature a new post in each of four quite different “departments” here every week, and thereafter the schedule loosened but the same principle continued. Since this organization appears to confuse some readers, I’ve “stuck” this post here to introduce myself, the blog, and its subjects—briefly here, and in more detail “below the fold.”

From childhood, I’ve had a story in my head that I feel called to write. That “big work,” tentatively titled “the Shine Cycle,” is the original nominal topic of this blog, but now is only one of the four “departments.” This part of the blog, which originally ran on Mondays, includes background essays about the story and its world (and “writing status updates” about monthly).

I’ve also had poetry “come to me” on occasion since high school. For a while—from late 2009 on—I posted a new poem here on the blog each Friday, and I continue to post them when I have new ones to post. This is the most popular “department” of the blog. Many of these poems are collected in A Year in Verse, now available on Kindle and in print. Most of my poetry is blank verse.

In the process of developing that collection, as I’m a notoriously bad critic of my own work, and most subscribers started reading this blog long after I began posting poems weekly, each Thursday from mid-2011 to January 2013 I asked for feedback on a few poems from my archive.

I’m also developing an innovative turn-based strategy/simulation game called Strategic Primer; in the third “department,” which originally ran on Wednesdays, I write about the game—its design, implementation, development, history, and so on.

The last “department,” which originally ran mostly on Saturdays, is “miscellaneous”—usually essays on a variety of topics.

I’ll describe each of these “departments” (and that term itself) after the jump

Story Précis: Introduction

This morning I’d like to introduce a new intermittent series of posts that will occasionally appear in this space: précis of the stories I plan to write in the Shine Cycle. I gave a little bit of a plot summary of most in my [brief outline of the plot of the series]](https://shinecycle.wordpress.com/archive/shine-cycle/outline/), but not enough to really give you much of an idea what the stories are about. So I intend to rectify that in this series. Continue reading

Reintroducing Myself

This week, I’ve been reintroducing myself and my work, since I never did properly when I began this blog in the last days of 2008. On Monday, I (re)introduced you to my planned fantasy series, the Shine Cycle. Wednesday, I reintroduced my strategy game, Strategic Primer. Today, I’ll (re)introduce myself and the rest of my work—in particular the miscellaneous jumble that sometimes appears here on Saturdays. Continue reading

Reintroduction: Strategic Primer

As I mentioned in Monday’s (re)introduction to the Shine Cycle, I never properly introduced myself or my work on this blog. Today, I’d like to (re)introduce Strategic Primer.

Strategic Primer is a strategy game that I’m designing. There are two versions of it (editions, perhaps): a campaign for a group of human players, run by a human moderator called the Judge, originally done with pen and paper but now run by email with computer assistance, and a computer game for one or several players. Continue reading

Reintroduction: The Shine Cycle

I’ve recently realized that other than my “Hello World” first post in the last days of 2008, I’ve never properly introduced myself or my work on this blog. So, to correct this omission, over the next few weeks I’ll be writing a series of posts reintroducing myself and my major projects—other than my poetry, which for the most part needs no introduction. Today I’ll begin with my fiction. Continue reading