My Favorite Hymns

hymnsI’ve mentioned before that I love music.  It’s been a part of my life for as long as I can remember and I credit my parents for helping to encourage my musical interest.

I can remember singing in my children’s Sunday School class as a child and by grade school I was taking piano lessons where I learned to read music and to really appreciate the musical process.

In my Christian walk, some of the most meaningful and inspirational music that I have come across are the myriad church hymns that have so long made up a part of our worship process.  I often find myself quietly singing or reflecting on a line or verse from a hymn and I know that God’s truth is proclaimed through these songs.  Today’s post is about a few of my favorite hymns and what they mean to me.

It only takes a spark to get a fire going,
And soon all those around can warm up in its glowing;
That’s how it is with God’s Love,
Once you’ve experienced it,
Your spread the love to everyone
You want to pass it on.

The first stanza to “Pass it On” is one of my favorites.  It’s the first hymn that I can remember singing as a child in either Sunday School or Children’s Church.  My class sang it every week and its simple message about God’s love is one that has stuck with me and encouraged me even as an adult.

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.

The chorus from “Turn Your Eyes upon Jesus” contains a message that I come back to again and again.  When we focus our attention completely on the Savior there is nothing in this world that has the power to overcome God’s glory and grace.  Often when I feel overwhelmed or anxious about something I hear these words in my mind and I am comforted by this truth.

Come thou fount of every blessing
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace
Streams of mercy never ceasing
Call for songs of loudest praise

Come Thou Fount” is just an excellent song to sing and especially in 4 part harmony.  I can remember singing this with my wife and a former choir director and his wife as part of a church special one evening and in the process of learning the song I really got to know the words and tune well.  It is a song of praise to God who loves us and helps us whenever we call upon Him.  Interestingly, the lyric “Here I raise mine Ebenezer” from the second verse refers to events in 1 Samuel where the Israelites finally defeated the Philistines and regained the Arc of the Covenant.  An Ebenezer is identified as a “Stone of Help” and was used to commemorate the site as a reminder of God’s real, Holy presence and divine aid.  I hope I can raise my Ebenezer every single day!

“Stand up, stand up for Jesus! ye soldiers of the cross;
Lift high His royal banner, it must not suffer loss:
From vict’ry unto vict’ry, His army shall He lead,
Till every foe is vanquished, and Christ is Lord indeed”

My wife (who is our church pianist) tells me that she often plays this for prelude on Sunday morning and perhaps that’s why it’s on my mind today.  “Stand up, Stand up for Jesus” is a rousing song that speaks of conflict and strife, battle and courage and contains a reminder that although we fight today, tomorrow we have victory.  Let us never forget that through God’s mighty power, we win!

“Joyful, joyful, we adore Thee,God of glory, Lord of love;

Hearts unfold like flow’rs before Thee,

Op’ning to the sun above.Melt the clouds of sin and sadness;Drive the dark of doubt away;Giver of immortal gladness,Fill us with the light of day!”

Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee” is adapted from Beethoven’s 9th symphony where it was originally titled “Hymn to Joy”.  I consider it one of the finest musical hymns in the Baptist Hymnal although that should hardly be surprising considering its excellent composer. It is both a joy to sing and a joy to meditate on the lyrics penned by Mr. Henry van Dyke who in 1907 adapted Beethoven’s tune for a church hymn.

So far I’ve listed only 5 of the wonderful church hymns that I’ve cherished and grown up with.  I may revisit this topic on another day but for today I will end by asking “What is your favorite hymn and how has it inspired you?”  Come; let us praise Him together with song!

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