I never loved hymns until football season of 1995.
As a freshman clarinet in the marching band, I found a spot on the band bus next to my friend and settled in for a long ride to Watertown or someplace.
Halfway there, some of the seniors in front of us had the idea. "Let's sing hymns!"
Before I knew it, the Red Devil band bus was filled with heavenly praises.
"Rock of Ages," "Blessed Assurance," "Victory in Jesus." Then the French horn player and her brother sang "Beulah Land." The entire bus was silent, soaking in the beauty as her alto harmony echoed his lead.
After that night, I never again sang hymns the same way. Probably like someone who's been to heaven can no longer say the word "heaven" casually.
The words of those hymns, when poured over a group of people more accustomed to cussing than worship, sank deep inside me and forced me to ponder them.
What a friend we have in Jesus! ALL our sins and griefs to bear. What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer!
Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine! Oh, what a foretaste of glory divine. Heir of salvation, purchase of God. Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood. This is my story, this is my song, praising my Saviour all the day long...
Not the labor of my hands can fulfill Thy law's demands. Could my zeal no respite know, could my tears forever flow, all for sin could not atone. Thou must save, and thou alone.
Oh victory in Jesus, my Saviour forever. He sought me, and he bought me with His redeeming blood! He loved me ere I knew Him, and all my love is due Him. He plunged me to victory beneath the cleansing flood.
Fast forward to 2005. As a young mother, I wanted to do everything right for my babies. I read and read and stumbled across the importance of nursery rhymes. Nursery rhymes, the experts said, teach children the cadence of speech and form neural pathways that benefit them the rest of their lives!
But nursery rhymes? They're so...morbid!
Ring Around the Rosie? Really?!
And it hit me.
The cadence and meter of nursery rhymes is found in the hymnbook as well.
If I read the hymns like they're nursery rhymes, if I read them sweetly at sleepy times, then maybe my kids would excel.
So I did.
I found an old hymnbook and started reading it to my little boys as if it were a Mother Goose book. Not only did the steady rhythms help them learn to talk, but it helped my writing. It also connected, in their minds, feelings of security with those melodious phrases that have comforted generations.
My favorite spot to find antiquated hymn lyrics has been Cyberhymnal. This morning, I clicked on it to read my kids our latest hymn. It went to a 404 page. Gasp. I went to the home page. GONE.
This is tragic, y'all. This world needs more hymns, not a loss of the rare ones almost forgotten.
Hymns Can Help Our Marriages
In Ephesians 5, we're commanded to SPEAK to ourselves in Psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs. A few verses later are all the marriage verses. So perhaps speaking hymns in our homes can make it easier to respond to our spouses well! I know hymns definitely make our home more peaceful, which is a gift to both of us.
More than anything, hymns get our minds on things that matter. The power, love, and richness God wants to give those who trust Him. The fact that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. The truth that Christ arose! That even at my worst, God never changes, and He is for me.
It's been so great for us that now David and I collect old hymnbooks. Inside those worn covers are riches that people shed blood to share. Therein lie truths that could heal this broken world if people would only believe them.
Soooo...I plan to share hymns with you now. Like devotionals written hundreds of years ago and cherished for centuries.
Here's the first one. Ponder these words like a teenager needing a good soak in holiness, and see if it doesn't lift your soul!
TO GOD BE THE GLORY
By Fanny Crosby
To God be the glory, great things He has done; So loved He the world that He gave us His Son, Who yielded His life an atonement for sin, And opened the life gate that all may go in. Refrain: Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, Let the earth hear His voice! Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, Let the people rejoice! O come to the Father, through Jesus the Son, And give Him the glory, great things He has done. O perfect redemption, the purchase of blood, To every believer the promise of God; The vilest offender who truly believes, That moment from Jesus a pardon receives. Refrain: Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, Let the earth hear His voice! Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, Let the people rejoice! O come to the Father, through Jesus the Son, And give Him the glory, great things He has done. Great things He has taught us, great things He has done, And great our rejoicing through Jesus the Son; But purer, and higher, and greater will be Our wonder, our transport, when Jesus we see. Refrain: Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, Let the earth hear His voice! Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, Let the people rejoice! O come to the Father, through Jesus the Son, And give Him the glory, great things He has done
Here's the tune if you want to sing it as well as speak it.
What's your favorite hymn?