Though my parents did send me to Sunday school they were not church members and I really hadn’t heard any of the Hymns until I was an adult. Music to me was divided into two categories: mine and my parents. They liked an odd combination of Benny Goodman, Pete Fountain and lot’s of Beethoven and friends. I remember sitting down to dinner with Ta Ta Ta Dom – Ta Ta Ta Dom resounding in the background! As for me I enjoyed just about anything that was being played on our local AM radio station. So for me rock and roll in all of its various styles was a welcome relief from the stuff Mom and Dad longed for me to listen to.
So as a nineteen year old hippie and radical convert I encountered music that neither I nor my parents had any investment in. That music was the Hymns.
A hymn I discovered was a song that apparently everyone but me knew, but no one was too sure who wrote it or when. While I also heartily enjoyed plenty of Contemporary Christian music it would be a hymn that I found going through my mind when I was at work, sitting down to eat or lying down to sleep. Hymns seemed to fall into disfavor in church services beginning in the late 1980’s. It didn’t help that hymn books in the pews have virtually disappeared and been replaced by images displayed on the walls. But the old hymns have surprised everybody by their staying power. In the last five years many contemporary Christian recording artists have released either remakes of many hymns or have wholesale incorporated verses from hymns into their own songs.
In a funny sort or way, a hymn is a song that everyone knows, but no one knows who wrote it! In addition to that anonymity the vast majority of the older hymns were written, sung, translated and published with very little or no financial remuneration. For example Fanny Crosby the composer of Blessed Assurance received no more than $10 for any one of the thousand or so songs which she wrote! But just what exactly is a hymn and why doe anyone care what we sing when we gather in our local churches? Of course there is no one definition that fits all hymns but when we sing one somehow we recognize it. Over the next couple of days I will share a few tidbits I have picked up over the years and would welcome anyone else’s insights. Be blessd today and don’t forget to keep singing as the days go by!
Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens. Praise him for his acts of power; praise him for his surpassing greatness. Psalm 150:1-2