~~~~~~~~~ "We are here for only a moment, wanderers and sojourners in the land as our ancestors were before us. Our days on earth are like a passing shadow, gone so soon without a trace." I Chron. 29:15 NLT

Monday, September 13, 2010

Where have all the Hymns Gone?

When all five of us children were at home together we would gather around the piano and sing hymns and gospel music.  Our oldest sister would play hymns from the book. Sometimes our middle sister would play gospel songs by ear (without the book) and we would all harmonize together, even though some of us didn't read notes. 

After we married and established our own homes, we still gathered around the old piano when we met at home for holidays and birthdays.  We sisters often sang as a trio in church, and we still occasionally sing together, including our sister-in-law, just for old times sake.  Those gospel hymns spoke to us as meaningfully as the Bible.  They were called "gospel" for a reason because most of them were a condensed version of the gospel. They were easier to memorize than verses from the King James version of the Bible.

Many churches have gotten away from singing the old hymns.  Younger people have been influenced by the contemporary Christian recording artists.  Short, repetitious praise and worship songs dominate our worship services.  Maybe I'm just an old curmudgeon, but sometimes when we repeat a phrase over and over, over and over, I'm trying to figure out what's going on--is it that we are so stressed that we can't remember the phrase from one breath to the next?  Or maybe our minds wander (my mind has been known to do that) and we've forgotten we sang that same phrase three or four times. 

I must admit that some of these contemporary songs do wrap their melodies and words around my heart, and I thoroughly enjoy singing them with my fellow Christians in spite of the lack of harmony in them.  One song, which I'm going to share the lyrics with you, I loved the first time I heard it.  I think the wistful, mellow voice of the writer and singer, Chris Rice, and the inspired words of "Untitled Hymn (Come to Jesus)," found a place in my heart beside Amazing Grace and I'll Fly Away because it has the same divine quality as the old songs.

Having heard the song numerous times, what solidified it in my heart was one Sunday morning when a group of young people who witness through miming did an interpretive mime of "Come to Jesus."  The exaggerated, yet fluid, movements and soulful facial expressions executed in perfect union drew out the yearnings of my heart. It was then I realized this song is my spiritual autobiography and condenses the complete gospel message of the Bible.  What more can be said, except to encourage you to sing it often and hide it in your heart.

Chris Rice - Untitled Hymn (Come To Jesus) Lyrics

Weak and wounded sinner
Lost and left to die
O, raise your head, for love is passing by
Come to Jesus
Come to Jesus
Come to Jesus and live!

Now your burden's lifted
And carried far away
And precious blood has washed away the stain, so
Sing to Jesus
Sing to Jesus
Sing to Jesus and live!

And like a newborn baby
Don't be afraid to crawl
And remember when you walk
Sometimes we fall...so
Fall on Jesus
Fall on Jesus
Fall on Jesus and live!

Sometimes the way is lonely
And steep and filled with pain
So if your sky is dark and pours the rain, then
Cry to Jesus
Cry to Jesus
Cry to Jesus and live!

O, and when the love spills over
And music fills the night
And when you can't contain your joy inside, then
Dance for Jesus
Dance for Jesus
Dance for Jesus and live!

And with your final heartbeat
Kiss the world goodbye
Then go in peace, and laugh on Glory's side, and
Fly to Jesus
Fly to Jesus
Fly to Jesus and live!



Donna's Book Nook said...

I'm like you, I love some of the old hymns. But I've loved the song in this post, ever since i first heard it.

I'm getting used to and even liking some of the newer songs, but for some reason it's harder to commit them to memory, and have them available when my heart needs them.

Rebecca said...

This is one of my favorite newer songs. Meanwhile, many, many of the hymns are in my "heart". They come back to me over and over again. I'm SO thankful that they are a part of my heritage and wish there was a way to ensure that they are in the minds and memory of THIS current generation...still working at that.

Dee said...

A lovely song...I have not heard it before. The little country church I attend sings all the old hymns every Sunday and they let the teens once a month sing and share the contemporay one's. As long as they are sung from the heart to God...it is all ok with me. I am sure God love's to hear them. :)

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