He is not the God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive.” Luke 20:38
Hymns are songs that make a connection. Hymns can be sung by grandchildren as they hold their Grandparent’s hands. I am connected to my father who is in now heaven when I hear the words “When peace like a river attendeth my way.” I can still hear the voice of my pastor who has flown to heaven, when I sing “I’ll fly away O glory!” We who claim orthodoxy of the faith sometimes think and act like the Sadducees who didn’t believe in life after death. We sing and worship as if Martin Luther, Charles Wesley and Fanny Crosby were all long dead. But the reality is that they are also praising God together with us in “Real time” as we say today. When we sing the hymns we have access to a connection of praise that runs back through the ages without the divide of denomination, geography or race.
The demand for continual new material in our cooperate worship has become so strong that even songs written 10 years ago are treated like second class citizens. Worship songs from the 1970’s – 80’s are considered so out of touch or quaint that no one even considers using them. But focusing only on latest contemporary worship rather than keeping us wonderfully connected to God actually leaves us both isolated and impoverished. We are not the only generation that has ever known how to glorify God but rather we are simply one row in God’s enormous heavenly arena. When we worship we need to close our eyes and imagine the voices of all believers down through the centuries blending
their ancient harmonies with our 21st century praise. He is not the God of the dead but of the living and He gives us worship songs ever new and yet ageless; as His gift of connection to that ageless connected community called the church!