Posted by: thebylog | May 2, 2005

The Power of Hymns

For all the flak hymns take sometimes among some Christians, they certainly are powerful and timeless, particular in times when comfort or strength is really, honestly needed. They don’t work so well when they are sung out of habit on yet another Sunday morning while the participant is thinking about anything but a real honest-to-goodness need in his/her life.

But on Saturday, a young girl here was having some major health issues. We gathered in the chapel with her and prayed and sang. Song after song, hymn after hymn, offered words that truly spoke to what was happening.

I noticed this too, when a close friend was really, really sick. All the sudden lyrics, which I had mouthed time after time, spoke powerfully and directly to the situation.

Maybe the problem with hymns (or other songs that fail to move us) is that we don’t feel enough to really appreciate their impact.

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Responses

  1. Absolutely! Why do hymns seem boring? Either we’re not paying attention to what we’re singing, or we’re actually apethetic about the message itself.

    I was reading through the archives and found your “Purpose” critique/review. “And Can It Be” is my favorite song on the CD. (Yes Tom, I did get one.) Best lyrics, and maybe best arrangement too. Not the best, uh, performance though. The passion in the last verse, which was awesome by the way, made it hard to keep a tight sound. But still excellent!

    Underrated-Good, solid hymns
    Overrated-“Fun” songs

    Dave

  2. Not in AHQ Dave. I had to fight for seemingly every “fun” song we did!

  3. Hey, don’t take this personally Tom, but I’m glad to here that!

    I’m more than a little perturbed by the shift from solid stuff to shallow stuff that most quartets seem to think they need to sing if they want to attract an audience. I say arrange the song if it needs it,(because keeping the attention of your audience is extremely important) and go light on the petty songs. Please notice I didn’t say scrap ’em. 🙂

    Actually, it’s a passion of mine to eventually compose arrangements of “hymnbook songs”, particularly for men’s voices. I’ve done a couple, but I need to study some music theory before trying too hard.

    Dave

  4. By the way Tom, is there any info on the SMBI Quartet Seminar?

    Dave

  5. Uh, please excuse typo in post #3, here/hear…

  6. You know what Dave, I did have that info. However, when I rebuilt my computer my Mozilla Calendar info was the lone data casulty. So maybe By could find out those dates again for me!

    Are you planning on coming?

    You should. We could have a rousing discussion on “light” versus “heavy” songs!

  7. Ha! Sounds good to me! I’m gonna try to make it. There’s a chance that I’ll be in Canada by then.
    Dave

  8. Speaking of light/heavy songs, I really enjoy the new songs that are so pertinent to today, and so practical, that they turn your complacency upside down and really shake you. Rich Mullins was good for that. Go listen to “The Jesus Record” which was produced after his death. Some powerful lyrics and not shallow at all.

  9. First of all, for the record, I love hymns. Spiritual meat and potatoes, unlike “Yes Lord, yes Lord, yes yes Lord,” which is more like whipped topping.
    Just a few notes on Purpose, which I’ve been listening to a lot: It’s still not the perfect music to mop the kitchen floor to, which I’ve been searching for for years, but still GOOD. The only problem is that I like to sing along and Matt confronts me on everything.
    Me: My troubles just allll rollll awaaay.
    Matt: Mom, is that really true?
    Me: Um, no.
    (Later)
    Me:Youuu alone are my heart’s desire…
    Matt: But what about Dad?
    Me: Sigh.

  10. So Dorcas, which is better for mopping the floor, meat and potatoes or whipped cream?

    Seriously now, what are you looking for? Your insight may well help all us aspiring musicians reach another important audience!

  11. By the way, love your blog Dorcas. Very down to earth and actually, inspiring. Thanks for giving us a peek into your home.

  12. Oops–I think it’s actually someone else that sings “You alone are my heart’s desire” and not AHQ.

    Dave–thanks for the encouragement.
    The best music for mopping the floor is actually sauerkraut–in other words, polka. But all the polka tapes I buy at garage sales have a few dreadful songs like “In heaven there is no beer” so my conscience won’t let me listen to them.
    What I really like to listen to: hymns that sound fresh and beautiful but not so contorted that I can’t sing along.


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