With two weeks off from preaching, thanks to a wonderful Stephen Ministry Sunday last week and an out of town wedding this week, and no sermons to post (or write), I thought I might offer a few short reflections on some hymns instead.
I have always loved hymns. One of my absolute favorite classes in school was Christian Song. We learned some basic music theory, we studied the history of hymnody from early chants to chorales to Watts and Wesley to gospel music and spirituals. We analyzed the words and music. We studied individual author’s bodies of work. But most importantly, we sang.
You can study all you want, but you truly learn about Christian song by singing it. I don’t consider myself skilled in this arena, but at the end of the day it doesn’t matter. Because it’s not a performance, but an act of faith—an act of praise or thankfulness or prayer. Martin Luther is often credited with saying, “He who sings, prays twice.”
Each week, we are blessed with the opportunity to sing, to join our voices together and let the words and music of others—ancient and new—be our words and be our music. The Apostle Paul tells us that when we do not know what to pray, the Spirit of God intercedes with sighs too deep for words. Sometimes, I think, that Spirit comes as a hymn. At moments when I myself don’t have words to say, I can sing. I can share in others’ words and others’ faith.
So, for the next few days and next week, I’ll be writing about some hymns that have been meaningful to me, and why. If you have a favorite hymn, share it in the comments below. Maybe I’ll write about it!