This word. Here we are, back in seemingly deep waters.
Do you know the words to any hymns? Does your church still sing hymns in any of the services they offer? Sometimes it makes me feel old to talk about hymns. I'm not sure hymns are appreciated in the digital age. In a world filled with in-your-face messaging and ever evolving technology, hymns are mostly seen as passe, old-fashioned, boring even. I bet someone out there just yawned.
A great song is of course about the melody, but for me it's mostly about the words. Hymns are full of poetry. They tell stories. They encourage. They lay out for us, in the beautiful turn of a phrase, the enormity of God's love for us and the glory of creation. They urge us to keep pressing on when times are hard. They remind us of the path that leads to contentment. They assure us of the hope and confidence and trust we can place in the promises we've been given.
When I was growing up our church had a hymn night every once in a while. Even writing that I kind of cringe because Whaaaat? A hymn night? Sounds so 1920's. It was actually 1970 something, and it was one of my favorite things. Hymn sings happened maybe once a month or once a quarter. In 1970 we didn't have the all-day every-day mentality we have now, and I think the infrequent timing helped make it feel more special.
They were always on a Sunday evening and the atmosphere felt very casual, which was not at all how church felt on Sunday mornings. The pianist would call out from behind the little half wall where the piano sat, and ask what we wanted to sing. Shockingly (to my ten year old self) people in the congregation would just shout out a pager number. In church. They just called it right out.
In 1970 something churches felt a bit different than they do today.
Anyway, somebody would shout out #124! and everyone would flip through their hymnal, an actual book, to see what we were going to sing. And then we sang. We filled up that space with words and music. No lyrics on a screen, no hand held phones to google top ten most requested hymns of 1972, just books in the back of a pew and everyone singing along.
I love the music of today, and I'm not knocking words on a screen or technology in church. It's 2015 and time marches on. What I'm struck by though, is the way a one-word prompt can spark a memory. I saw that word 'trust' and my mind flashed right back to sitting in 'our pew', my mom and dad beside me, singing along with people we loved who felt so much like family...'Trust and obey, for there's no other way, to be happy in Jesus, than to trust and obey...'
Do you have a favorite old hymn? I'd love for you to leave it in the comments today.