Thursday, March 24, 2005

I have a passion for hymns

"Hymns are the vocal equivalent of stained glass. They have served across centuries to glorify God, teach and celebrate the faith and shed light on every life."


(Note: I am following the Terri Schiavo case, with my stomach faintly nauseous and my heart sad. But you will be able to read updates on other sites. I will blog on other topics for now.)

I didn't have a chance to look at yesterday's USA Today until today (is that a tongue-twister, or what?) But finally glancing over it this morning, my attention was caught by an article about Christian music: "Easter sings anew," by Cathy Lynn Grossman.

Any major newspaper article that quotes "He Lives" is guaranteed to catch my eye: "He walks with me, and talks with me, along life's narrow way."

I've blogged before about my love of hymns and my concern that they're dying out and being replaced by nice, but sometimes shallow and repetitive choruses.

Don't get me wrong, praise choruses have a valid place. But there's nothing quite so stirring as one of the great old hymns of the faith.

The USA Today article quotes Jars of Clay lead singer Dan Haseltine (his name inexplicably misspelled): "We want lyrics that remind us, 'Why am I going to church? Why am I drawn to worship?' The great hymns talk about man's depravity and God's greatness and how God bridges that gap..."

"You read the stories of hymn writers who were always grappling with how the gospel meets suffering, pain, frustration and doubt. Hymns are their response. There's a richness in their works because they are wrestling with it all. They are not people — we are not people — who have figured it all out."

Jars of Clay is one of several groups that are giving hymns a spirited new voice and in some cases, a whole new audience. The band's new album, "Redemption Songs," includes versions of "I Need Thee Every Hour" and "Nothing But the Blood."

I'm blessed to go to a church where hymns are sung on a regular basis. I can't adequately describe the times my soul has been stirred, my heart blessed and my eyes filled with tears of praise and gratitude while singing songs like "Great is Thy Faithfulness," "And Can it Be" (my personal favorite), and "When I Survey the Wondrous Cross."

USAToday's Grossman writes: "Hymns are the vocal equivalent of stained glass. They have served across centuries to glorify God, teach and celebrate the faith and shed light on every life."

Amen!

Long my imprisoned spirit lay,
Fast bound in sin and nature’s night;
Thine eye diffused a quickening ray—
I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.
--Charles Wesley, And Can it Be?






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