Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Hippo Song

Update: April 29, 2009: Visit the blog entry entitled "Musicians Guide to Hippos" for the second half of this story.

I'd have to admit that the Easter Vigil last Saturday was the first time I was thrown for a loop at Bethany. Perhaps the phrase 'vigil' had me prepared for a peaceful service, in the traditional noctural, devotional sense. Um...not so much. The night was announced as "a service to include a number of other ELCA congregations in the Denver area, including our brothers and sisters from the Spanish-language, Ethiopian Oromo, and Indonesian Batak communities. The service will feature guitar, piano, organ, and brass; as well as music and readings from around the world." Sounded educational!

The 38-page bulletin should have been my first clue, complete with translations and photocopied song excerpts. Pastor Ruth Ann sat next me for the service, which was fun. She's a former music teacher herself, so the two of us sight-reading foreign text was a hoot. We'd miss words, create some of our own, make up a new melody than what was written - quite amusing!

Did I mention The Hippo Song? Why, no, I believe I have not yet mentioned The Hippo Song. By all means, let me now mention The Hippo Song. Everyone in the congregation that evening had lit a candle to symbolize hope. The visiting minister, forgetting that even the children were holding little, flaming tubes of wax, invites the kids up front for the Children's sermon. Pastor Ruth Ann, realizing that we are about to have a holy ignition if the children do indeed rush the altar with lit candles, slips up to the pulpit to encourage a rapid extinguishing of all things flaming. The children, now holding their sad, fire-less wax drippers, join the visiting Pastor, who grabs a guitar, and starts showing everyone the motions to The Hippo Song.
For those of you who might have missed this exquisite anthem, here are the words:

In the beginning, God made the sea,
And the forest filled with trees.
He made the mountains up so high,

And on the top he placed the sky.

God's fingerprints are everywhere,

Just to show how much He cares.

But in between He had loads of fun,

He made a hippo who weighs a ton.


Hip-hip-hooray God made us!


Hip-hip-hooray God made us!

Mary Rice Hopkins

Did I mention I was hoping for an Easter Vigil? Something to link the days between the solemn nature of Good Friday and the joy of Easter morning? Somehow - while stomping like hippos in the pews, watching two plus hours advance on the clock, scrambling to find which page we were actually on the bulletin, two complete infant baptisms, and one out of tune guitar - I think we missed the vigil boat! This would have been a great service for the middle of summer - something outdoors, inside, full of culture. July. August. Perhaps next year. Just as long as The Hippo Song makes a repeat appearance.

1 comment:

Betty Benson Robertson said...

For more songs by Mary Rice Hopkins, please visit