I’ve got another singing video for you today – this one is titled “Amish Grandchildren singing for their Grandpa’s Funeral.” I share it for two reasons. One – it’s another nice example of singing I hope you’ll enjoy. Two – a comment attached to the video caught my eye (more below 🙂 ).

First, the video. We are in a large open space, but I’m not quite sure what this room is – there appears to be a stone chimney. We can see a little boy in the foreground who appears to be nibbling at a nearly empty plate. Our young group of singers fill the background of the shot. The song is “This World Is Not My Home.” Nice singing.

Two. Scanning the comments of this video I found an example of a common phenomenon.

As it applies to the Amish, you have someone who’s maybe met a few Amish people, or knew some growing up. This makes the person an expert. I think you know what I’m talking about.

You even see a version of this with some people who were raised Amish. That gives them a good bit of credibility – they’ve lived an Amish life, after all. But it doesn’t mean, for example, that they are versed in how all the many other groups of Amish do things. They can fall into a similar trap. “Our way” becomes “the way.”

So we get an example of the first type on this video from commenter “bach1521.” This is what he/she had to say on the above video:

This is not Amish singing…the song was written in the mid 50’s by a southern gospel writer and would not be sung my either old or new order Amish. Second it is sung in English. Amish sing only in German. Third, videos would not be allowed. This is Old order Mennonite. The Mennonite are more liberal with their singing. I was brought up around both sects of Amish and Mennonite.

Let’s look at each claim individually:

Claim 1: Amish would not sing a song from outside their own culture – As we saw in our last example of singing, Amish certainly do that. The type of song they might sing depends in part on where they are singing.

In church, it is mainly from the Ausbund hymnal (some Amish use another book called Unparteiische Liedersammlung). Outside of church at other singing occasions, they will sing hymns from a variety of sources – including Gospel hymns. The usual disclaimers apply here about how Amish church practices can vary.

Claim 2: Amish wouldn’t sing in English – As we saw in the last video example, also not true. Some youth groups sing in English. I have witnessed families singing in English together many times. It’s not unusual. Children sing in English in schools. Groups sing at non-Amish nursing homes. Here are some singing in the NYC subway. Here are Amish children singing for the Ohio legislature. All in English.

Claim 3: Video would not be allowed – Well, this would depend on the situation, but some Amish might permit it. Bach1521 claims the singers here are Mennonite. Several other commenters state that no, these are actually New Order Amish.

The New Order Amish are arguably the most permissive when it comes to photography (here’s an example). And these being youth and young people, that is another factor which makes this video little to be shocked over.

Some baptized Amish adults may also permit video or photography, depending on the context. I’ve already linked to a half-dozen singing clips above, some of which include adult Amish people.

After being rebuffed by others in the comments, bach1521 continues: I was raised in an Amish Commune. New order Amish speak in English but when it comes to worship of any kind, it is German only. No Bishop would allow this, it is considered sacrilege.

The first line suggests his story of knowing the Amish might be fabricated. I’ve never heard of it called an “Amish Commune”, but that sounds groovy, I guess. As for the singing in English, bishops certainly “allow” it.

I will concede that I’m not so sure about Swartzentruber Amish custom – for example, Karen Johnson-Weiner notes that in Swartzentruber schools, children sing only in German (see Train Up A Child p. 181).

So this could also be a case of “the Amish I know do it this way, so that’s how all Amish do it.”

As for these young singers, the dress is clearly Amish, and the shortish male haircuts, trimmed beards, and so on suggest the typical look in New Order churches.

But wait – if you look closely, you will notice there are a few people dressed in English garb. It might be that they were raised Amish but have decided not to be baptized in the Amish church, which of course happens sometimes. Or maybe their parents made that decision themselves. Or perhaps they are just friends helping out.

Bach1521’s comments seemed to get under the skin of some other commenters.  Two claimed to know the singers personally. One says she is a cousin to some of the singers. Another states that a non-Amish uncle made the video.

Those two commented under what appear to be their real names, and not a pseudonym. One happens to be named John Paul Raber. In her book Why The Amish Sing, D. Rose Elder cites an Ohio Amish writer of the same name.

Of course, it’s not difficult to find comments like Bach1521’s online. You could do this sort of debunking exercise every day of the week.

So why did I take the time to highlight Bach1521’s comments here? Well, maybe I’m feeling ornery today – too much social distancing 😉

Let’s just say I thought it would be worthwhile to add a little bit of analysis to this singing post, and knock down a few myths/misconceptions at the same time.

All that said, let’s end on a positive note. Here are the lyrics to the song this group of young people is singing. I don’t know who this man was, but it looks like he was blessed with a great group of grandchildren.

This World Is Not My Home

This world is not my home
I’m just a-passing through
My treasures are laid up
Somewhere beyond the blue.

The angels beckon me
From heaven’s open door
And I can’t feel at home
In this world anymore.

Oh Lord, you know
I have no friend like you
If heaven’s not my home
Then Lord what will I do.

The angels beckon me
From heaven’s open door
And I can’t feel at home
In this world anymore.

I have a loving mother
Just up in Gloryland
And I don’t expect to stop
Until I shake her hand.

She’s waiting now for me
In heaven’s open door
And I can’t feel at home
In this world anymore.

Oh Lord, you know
I have no friend like you
If heaven’s not my home
Then Lord what will I do.

The angels beckon me
From heaven’s open door
And I can’t feel at home
In this world anymore.

Just over in Gloryland
We’ll live eternally
The saints on every hand
Are shouting victory.

Their songs of sweetest praise
Drift back from heaven’s shore
And I can’t feel at home
In this world anymore.

Oh Lord, you know
I have no friend like you
If heaven’s not my home
Then Lord what will I do.

The angels beckon me
From heaven’s open door
And I can’t feel at home
In this world anymore.

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