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I love hymns. I do. I know I stick out like a sore thumb in my generation and like a statistical anomaly on demographic studies, but so be it. I love hymns.
This thought crossed my mind when I read today's Boundless article, "Love to Tell." Before I could even read the article, I had to finish the hymn in my head.
I love to tell the story, 'twill be my theme in glory,
To tell the old, old story of Jesus and His love.
And there's just something about Easter hymns, in particular, that gets my blood flowing a little. Maybe it's the memories of a childhood and youth of Easters spent with believers singing together. I loved seeing the congregations get a little umph in their songs this time of year (Hard to sing "Up from the grave He arose" in monotone).
Or maybe it's the lessons that I've learned from those hymns-- "Jesus paid it all, all to Him I owe".
Or maybe it's the humility they remind me to have -- "When I survey the wondrous cross, on which the Prince of glory died, my richest gain I count but loss, and pour contempt on all my pride."
Or maybe it's the thankfulness of generations of saints that they call me to join --"I love that old cross where the dearest and best for a world of lost sinners was slain."
Or maybe it's the sheer joy of Christ's victory -- "Christ the Lord is risen today, Ah..ah..ah..ah..alleluia!"
I sometimes wonder if C.S. Lewis' admonition to us about books might not work for music too. Lewis wrote:
"It is a good rule, after reading a new book, never to allow yourself another new one till you have read an old one in between. If that is too much for you, you should at least read one old one to every three new ones. Every age has its own outlook. It is specially good at seeing certain truths and specially liable to make certain mistakes. We all, therefore, need the books that will correct the characteristic mistakes of our own period. And that means the old books."
Maybe for every new song we sing to our Lord, it might not be a bad idea to go back and sing an old one. Not because an old song is worthy just because it is old, but because old songs have stood the test of generations and may point us toward genuine truths and even our own mistakes.
So, this Sunday, I certainly won't mind if our congregation sings contemporary songs. There are some great ones. But I hope we sing some old hymns as well. I'd like to "Awake my soul and sing, of Him who died for thee, And hail Him as thy matchless King, thro' all eternity."
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Comment by DEH:
I, too, love hymns. Thanks for this post!
Comment by JoyW:
I love hymns, new AND old, especially the Easter ones. A couple we sang at the Good Friday service today were "When I Survey the Wondrous Cross" (written in 1707) and "How Deep the Father's Love" (2006). Both made me reflect on the greatness of His sacrifice.
The service closed with a soloist singing a portion of the modern hymn "In Christ Alone":
In Christ alone, Who took on flesh,
Fullness of God in helpless babe!
This gift of love and righteousness,
Scorned by the ones He came to save.
Till on that cross as Jesus died,
The wrath of God was satisfied;
For ev'ry sin on Him was laid—
Here in the death of Christ I live.
There in the ground His body lay,
Light of the world by darkness slain.
I can't wait until Sunday when we'll sing the rest:
Then bursting forth in glorious day,
Up from the grave He rose again!
And as He stands in victory,
Sin's curse has lost its grip on me;
For I am His and He is mine—
Bought with the precious blood of Christ.
No guilt in life, no fear in death—
This is the pow'r of Christ in me;
From life's first cry to final breath,
Jesus commands my destiny.
No pow'r of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand;
Till He returns or calls me home—
Here in the pow'r of Christ I'll stand.
Comment by Elizabeth:
Just adding a good old fashioned 'AMEN'! :D
Comment by Rebecca:
I definitely agree! One of the reasons I love my church (a very small Reformed urban plant) is that worship is central to the church, and central to that worship is theologically rich hymns--both contemporary and traditional. I missed that kind of singing for much of my teen and adult life and I am so grateful to return to it now.
Comment by RachelB:
Yes yes yes! : ) I too may be a youngster in the hymn-loving crowd, but I long to hear "O Sacred Head Now Wounded" in the days leading up to Easter. What a vivid reminder of his love for us then, now, and forever. Oh to love him deeply in return.
Comment by HannahC:
I LOVE HYMNS TOO!!!!
I grew up in a very traditional Episcopal church...and am currently going to a very non-traditional charismatic church. The two things I miss most are the church calendar and the hymns!!
And "Christ the Lord is risen today" is one of my favorites!!! Thank you for posting this! I know I'm not alone now. :)
Comment by sarah:
I agree with you. I wish my church would sing more hymns.
Comment by Jesse:
I stick out like a sore thumb in my generation and like a statistical anomaly on demographic studies
Same here, seems that almost all in my generation of believers like modern worship styles over the traditional hymns and classical worship. Not that the modern stuff is necessarily wrong or inferior, but it does make it harder for folks like me to find churches with plenty of people in my demographic and the style of worship I prefer.
Comment by rachael:
It is wonderful that hymns have come back "in" to the Christian music scene...
Comment by brx:
Easter is a fertility festival.
That's been bothering me all week this year. (not sure why it didn't bother me much in previous years)
I like hymns! (and with gusto!) Let's sing hymns to celebrate Holy week, Passover, Passion week, the Sabbath, and Resurection Day!
Let us not mislead or confuse those who don't know Christ and are living in a pluralistic culture, by our using a word that refers to Herod's fertility festival (Easter). ...do the bunnies make more sense now?...
Grace & peace,
Comment by ElizabethfromCanada:
I, too, love those old hymns! One of my favourite (non-Easter) hymns is "Oh for a Thousand Tongues to Sing" - I love the verse that goes:
He breaks the power of cancelled sin
He sets the prisoner free
His blood can make the foulest clean
His blood availed for me!
Personally, I like to memorise hymns and then sing them when doing chores (especially ones I rather dislike); it gets my mind off whether or not I like to do something and on to God, Who He is and what He has done.
Comment by Jeremy:
"Same here, seems that almost all in my generation of believers like modern worship styles over the traditional hymns and classical worship."
I don't think this is true, I think it is a misconception that many church leaders have, that "the kids love the gui-tars". Well more than 3/4 of the believers I have asked over the years prefer hymns. Every time anything on the subject is posted on here, that seems to be the overwhelmingly majority viewpoint as well.
I think too many music leaders have accepted as fact the urban legend that in order to attract younger believers, one must use modern guitar-based worship songs.
Comment by JonathanSarfatiPhD:
Right back in the early days of the Christian Church, Melito, Bishop of Sardis, gave an amazing Passover sermon in AD ~170 that's hard to match:
And so he was lifted up upon a tree and an inscription was attached indicating who was being killed. Who was it? It is a grievous thing to tell, but a most fearful thing to refrain from telling. But listen, as you tremble before him on whose account the earth trembled!
He who hung the earth in place is hanged.
He who fixed the heavens in place is fixed in place.
He who made all things fast is made fast on a tree.
The Sovereign is insulted.
God is murdered.
The King of Israel is destroyed by an Israelite hand.
This is the One who made the heavens and the earth,
and formed mankind in the beginning,
The One proclaimed by the Law and the Prophets,
The One enfleshed in a virgin,
The One hanged on a tree,
The One buried in the earth,
The One raised from the dead and who went up into the heights of heaven,
The One sitting at the right hand of the Father,
The One having all authority to judge and save,
Through Whom the Father made the things which exist from the beginning of time.
This One is ‘the Alpha and the Omega’,
This One is ‘the beginning and the end’
The beginning indescribable and the end incomprehensible.
This One is the Christ.
This One is the King.
This One is Jesus.
This One is the Leader.
This One is the Lord.
This One is the One who rose from the dead.
This One is the One sitting on the right hand of the Father.
He bears the Father and is borne by the Father.
‘To him be the glory and the power forever. Amen.’
Comment by MikeMiller:
I have noticed that the newer pop Christian songs do not have that deep theological wonder like hymns. Hymns seem to have that awe of wonder and it is like hearing God' majesty as the hymns are being played. The hymns are a giant miss from the service I attend.
Comment by vanessa:
I love the old hymns. Our church incorporates them often into worship, sometimes using a "remix" style but with the same powerful words and basic melody.
I think the main difference I find between the "old hymns" and modern worship choruses is that the old hymns are so lyrically profound, yet so simple in message. As our generations get further and further away from a "standard" dictionary and use a very weakened vocabulary, the meanings of the powerful couplets in the hymns are completely lost.
By the way, one of my most favorite Crucifixion hymns is "When I Survey The Wondrous Cross."
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