In these days of COVID, I find that some of our beloved hymns are troubling–all of that breathing and touching and singing. So I’ve re-written a few favorites to be more appropriate for our physically-distanced, virus-conscious lives. (You really should sing them to get the full effect.) (But don’t sing them while you’re in a space with other people who aren’t part of your COVID bubble.)

Peace Mennonite congregation: pre-COVID. Photo credit: Sophia Kaufman.

Abide with me, hard hits Coronatide.
Ignorance deepens; Lord with me abide.
When local mask laws fail and reason flees,
Help for the hopeless, O abide (6 feet away) with me.

Just a closer walk with thee,
If you’re COVID negative.
Daily masking as I breathe.
Let me be
Corona virus free.

Precious Lord, take my hand,
Sanitized, here I stand.
Disinfected, I’m washed, I am clean.
So it’s OK this once,
I think, if we touch.
Take my hand, precious Lord,
I’ll wear gloves.

What is this place where we are meeting?
Oh it’s my house, my dirty floor.
Sit on the couch with my computer.
Windows boots up—one Sunday more.
Livestream and pre-recording and Zoom–
In March no one knew how.
It’s what church looks like now.

I come to the garden alone
And vow to keep social distance.
So I hope and pray that on this day
All will heed my insistence:
Please don’t walk with me,
And don’t talk to me,
And put that mask on your face.
For the germs you’d share
If I breathed your air,
Might just be Corona laced.

Our lives flow on in trying times
Of the Corona virus.
We hear the sad, unwelcome news
That singing hymns is dang’rous.
No mask can stop the spittle drops
That from our mouths we’re flinging.
Since people die of COVID-19,
We must still keep from singing.


Rev. Joanna Harader serves as pastor of Peace Mennonite Church in Lawrence, KS, where she is, thankfully, not usually in charge of hymn selection. Her blog is Spacious Faith.


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