I grew up in a little church in Oklahoma. Every week I picked up our burgundy hymnal with gold embossing, looked in the weekly bulletin for hymn numbers, and sang along with the choir, all ornately adorned in golden robes (notice the theme). This was the ritual I grew up with and grew to love. Some of my greatest memories include sitting in the congregation and hearing the tenors belt out, “Then sings my soul/my savior God to thee…”
I still love singing hymns with our church. The setting has changed. We don’t need hymnals anymore. We’ve got our LG TVs. No more bulletins, our people know what we’re singing from the Spotify playlist. And you won’t see any golden robes. Those have been replaced by plaid button ups. But we still sing the hymns and with good reason.
Hymns Tie Us to History
One thing I try to remind our people of frequently is that our faith is not new. We are joining in with saints of old who have finished their race as we heap songs of praise upon Jesus. We also sing along with those two or three generations above us who, by virtue of time and experience, naturally have more wisdom. When we sing hymns, we sing songs that act as a natural tie to these heroes of the faith.
Hymns Come with Great Stories
In a few weeks, we will re-introduce the hymn, “It Is Well” to our church. The writer, Horatio Spafford, penned the hymn after his four daughters died in a tragic accident while they were crossing the Atlantic. The reason they were on the boat? The family was moving to Europe after The Great Chicago Fire of 1871 took both Horatio’s son and his business.When we sing hymns, we sing songs that act as a natural tie to these heroes of the faith.Click To Tweet
Yet when he received the telegram that notified him that the rest of his children had died, he wrote, “When peace like a river attendeth my way/When sorrows like sea billows roll/Whatever my lot Thou hast taught me to say/It is well, it is well with my soul.” It is good for us to hear stories of God’s work in tragedy and triumph, and many of our hymns are birthed out of those circumstances.
Hymns Are Generally Filled with Rich Theology
Now, this is not always the case. I would never say that in every case songs in hymnals are more theologically sound than songs written today. The Baptist Hymnal is not infallible. But in many instances, the songs that have made it down through generations teach us much about God.
Our church sings loud every week. But it is hard to miss that when we sing hymns, people sing louder, and I think these three points are good reasons why.