pastor west sunday school visitYou may have noticed that hymns are not very popular in many of our churches. To preserve these musical statements of faith, we need to pass them on. That is what I am trying to do with, as well as in my own local church.

That is why I started a new practice in my children’s choir this year. I am asking our pastors and elders to share their favorite hymn. Last Sunday, one of our pastors shared his favorite hymn, “Christ Jesus Lay in Death’s Strong Bands,” an Easter hymn written by Martin Luther.

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Many hymns are set to more than one tune. Perhaps it is a bit provincial, but it is sometimes a surprise to find that a favorite hymn is sung in another country not to just different tune, but one that is in some ways more beautiful to the the tune to which one is accustomed. Such is the case with “I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say.”

Our church begins each New Year by singing “God of our Fathers”. It was written in 1876 by Daniel Roberts to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the United States Declaration of Independence.

Here are the lyrics of this prayer for our nation:

God of our Fathers, Whose Almighty Hand
Leads forth in beauty all the starry band.
Of Shining worlds in splendor through the skies
Our grateful songs, before thy throne arise.

Thy Love divine hath led us in the past.
In this free land by thee our lot is cast.
Be thou our ruler, guardian, guide, and stay.
Thy Word Our Law, thy Paths our chosen ways.

From wars alarms, from deadly pestilence,
Be thy Strong arm our ever sure defense;
Thy true religion in our hearts increase,
Thy Bounteous goodness, nourish us in peace.

Refresh thy people on their toilsome way;
Lead us from night, to ever ending day;
Fill all our lives, with love and grace divine,
And glory, laud, and praise be ever thine.

Talk about strolling down memory lane! We came across this song on YouTube. Not only is it a powerful presentation of the “I Stand Amazed” hymn (especially David Phelps’s solo), but it also reminds us of wonderful days of “revival meetings.” We grew up in a time when it was common for churches to have special meetings once a year or so during the middle of the week. They promoted it as “revival week” – a time to hear more sermons and sing more hymns then just on Sunday, with the aim to stir up the church, revive our souls to greater service in Christ’s Kingdom and win the lost. And yes, we even on occasion had such meetings in a tent. Those were some good memories.

Josiah is eleven-years old. He has been Kim Snow’s piano student for one year. He plays the piano at his church and volunteers to play at other events. So far, he is just playing offertories, but I am preparing him to accompany the singing of hymns at his church. Last week I asked him what is his favorite hymn. He said it is “Just A Little Talk With Jesus.” Here is a video of him serving others at a local hospital by playing “Since Jesus Came Into My Heart” and his favorite hymn.

Here is one of our favorite clips from the same documentary. 94-year old Henry comes alive when he starts listening to Cab Calloway. (At one point Henry seems to be talking gibberish. The clip does not show it, but he is mimicking Cab Calloway’s “scat” — a type of jazz singing characterized by improvised vocal sounds instead of words)

We watched this documentary last night. It is a wonderful demonstration of God’s common grace and kindness given to all — but in this case, especially those suffering from dementia — through the gift of music.