I recently ran across an article by Diana Butler Bass written several years ago which spoke on the benefit of hymn singing and how communities who regularly sing hymns together, affirm and strengthen their faith. Over the past two weeks I, and many of you have experienced both profound joy and sadness from the same hymn, Love, Divine, All Loves Excelling as we sang it in entirely different settings: a wedding and at two funerals.
Its text has been floating through my mind these past two weeks, especially the words that begin the final stanza:
“Finish then thy new creation pure and spotless let us be;
… let us see thy great salvation
… lost in wonder love and praise.”
What wonderful words of comfort for us as we send loved ones to their heavenly life; and, what wonderful words to usher a new couple into life as one in holy marriage. I love that the whole hymn exudes praise and love for God, and fits both of these occasion so well.
Singing this hymn in these different contexts these past two weeks has reminded me that music, and specifically hymnody, fills our lives from infancy to death and that songs and these hymns carry our memories. I think we would lose something of incredible value if these important poems of faith became disconnected from our spirituality. And so, it is important that we continue to sing together the hymns of our faith, teach them to our children, and talk about them and what they mean to each of us and our community as a whole. For in doing this - sharing the church's song - our faith, and the faith of our brothers and sisters in Christ - our community is further strengthened to live out our call to change the world.
It is not you that sings; it is the church that is singing,
and you, as a member…may share in its song.
- Theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Here are a few more excerpts from our community’s favorite hymns:
Hymn 516 – Come down O Love Divine
Lyn Crawford writes:
For some time, now, this is the hymn that springs from my unconsciousness whenever I am troubled, sad, anxious or frightened. It's words and music take me to a safe, enveloping place where I immediately feel God's presence, usually as the Holy Spirit or in the words of Jesus spoken as if they are for me alone. And never, never have I failed to be comforted; never, never have I failed to find my center again.
Hymn 423 - Immortal, Invisible
Rev. John Shellito writes:
This spring, I'm particularly appreciating “Immortal, Invisible, God only Wise.” I don’t entirely know why I feel so connected to God’s majesty and sovereignty in that song. I also like the beautiful reminder that God’s gracious, restorative justice is like mountains. I imagine God’s justice also soaring above our limited conceptions of “justice” whether retributive, legalistic, punitive, or otherwise. Even if we can’t always see God’s work in our lives, that doesn’t mean that God’s goodness and love isn’t there: guiding, and correcting, and helping us do better, by the grace of God, across a variety of areas and seasons of life. I also appreciate the closing: “ ‘tis only the splendor of light hideth thee.”
St. George’s Favorite Hymn Project:
We are collecting YOUR favorite hymns. Submit yours today.
Tell us what it is here and why.