Music and the Broken Word: Songs for Alternate Voices

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9780941214995: Music and the Broken Word: Songs for Alternate Voices
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For singers who like zingers, these hilarious contemporary lyrics by Paul Toscano, illustrated by cartoonist Calvin Grondahl, will leave anyone with a funnybone in stitches. The tunes are familiar, but the themes are new. Some are light-hearted and poke fun at everyday events, while others are edged with satire and parody. Titles include "Ere You Left Your Room This Morning, Did You Think to Shave?" "My! How the Women are Raging," "How Numerous the Commands," "There is Sunstone in the Mail Today," "Marry On!" "Mormons Have the Holiest Architects," "Let Us All be Faith-Promoting," and "We are Spending, Daily Spending." Music and the Broken Word will delight lovers of Mormon humor and dismay ward choristers.

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About the Author:

Paul James Toscano is an attorney who serves as a Standing Bankruptcy Trustee for the District of Utah. A former staff editor at the Ensign magazine, he is the author of Gospel Letters to a Mormon Missionary; Invisible Religion in the Public Schools; The Sanctity of Dissent; The Sacrament of Doubt; and Secularism, Neutrality, and the Supreme Court; co-author of Music and the Broken Word: Songs for Alternate Voices, and Strangers in Paradox: Explorations in Mormon Theology; and is a founder and past co-president of the Mormon Alliance.

Review:

The popularity of this slim volume (some have joshingly referred to it as "the little red songbook") attests to several things: Mormons are capable of laughing at themselves, religious satire is alive and well, and God works in mysterious ways. While there is not a mean bone in this body of satire (familiar LDS hymns are parodied here; one is referred to the correct page in official hymn books for the music), the lyrics are often critical and acerbic. Mormons (and non-Mormons) comfortable with criticism as a serious (even holy) work of telling hard truths with wit and affection will sing hallelujah. Others doubtless will be offended. A bonus for both groups is a Calvin Grondahl cartoon on the facing page of every hymn. To the tune of "Let Us All Press on," we are invited to sing, Let us all press on / even though we may be bored / Even though the sermon is one that we have heard / Even though the lesson is empty as a gourd. / It's simpler than the truth. "Master the Tempest Is Raging" is parodied as My! How the women are raging! / We can't keep them in their place. / They'll soon be demanding the priesthood / Addressing us face to face / We can no longer command them. / They want their equal rights. / Without good humble women beneath us, / How can we ascend the heights? BYU dress standards, church security, architecture, public relations and finances all take their lumps. But fun is poked not only at institutional foibles, but at Mormon critics. Toscano is laughing at himself when he asks Mormon liberals to sing (to the tune of "Sweet Is the Work"), Sweet are my doubts, my God my King. / I love to question everything. / I challenge thee by morning light / And fondle all my qualms by night. Toscano's most affecting hymn it is poignant, funny and sexy is called "The Wedding Song." If one actually sings it, one realizes a curious thing. Satire can be tender, healing and, yes, inspirational--and still have a bite. --Salt Lake Tribune, Paul Swenson

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Paul Toscano; Calvin Grondahl
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