I love to go to library book sales and not long ago I was thrilled to buy a very old hymnal for $1.00 at a sale. It’s called The Service Hymnal and the title page says “Compiled for general use in all religious services of the Church, School and Home.” You might guess it was printed a while back…1944 to be exact. I bought it because it is full of the old hymns we sang from the Baptist Hymnal growing up. It seems that my favorite hymns are disappearing from Church services in favor of the newer contemporary Christian music. While I love contemporary Christian music, when I am in Church I want to stand and sing the songs I grew up with. Nothing makes me feel better than to belt it out to Blessed Assurance! When I was a little girl I would stand on the pew between my grandmother and granddaddy and draw out the “O” on “This is my stOOOOOOOry, this is my song.” Long O.
A good friend of mine from Jonesboro is a pianist in a large church there. A few years ago as a gift to her parents, she had a recording made of a concert she gave. I was lucky enough to receive a copy of the CD and I especially loved hearing her play favorite hymns of mine. It reminded me of when my mother played the piano in church and her cousin Karen played the organ. Those were awesome Sunday mornings when the two of them delivered amazing “special music” before the offering was taken. I’ll bet the plates were a little fuller on the mornings those two were at the keys. I asked my friend from Jonesboro whether or not she played more hymns or contemporary worship music these days, and she quickly told me that contemporary worship music would never take the place of hymns while she is at the piano. She used the big word “hymnology” during the conversation and said that she was worried that young people today, and some congregations, are not hearing and learning the hymns that we grew up singing and loving, like The Old Rugged Cross and Onward Christian Soldiers.
People have been worshiping with hymns since the Psalms were written, even before. I know there are contemporary praise songs written from the scripture too, but it just seems right that people would walk down the isle to profess their faith to Just As I Am and be buried to In the Garden. Can I get an Amen?