Hymns. The hymnal. The old songs. The “good old songs” some would say.
I have an old Broadman hymn book that my parents passed on to me. I love to use it in prayer and meditation, and my daughters love the rich truths found in its pages. Many of the hymns in that book stopped being sung years ago … in the 70s and 80s, when the newer songs were introduced that had less mention of missions, the cross, and the blood of Jesus and wrath of God. That was almost 40 years ago! I am also being blessed these days by a devotional book that gives insight and background into the many great hymns of the past … many that I didn’t grow up singing but am thankful young artists are bringing back, some using them within new songs. The intro of this devotional book sums up my thoughts well and I wanted to share a little of what he says . . .
“When the Bible tells us to sing ‘a new song’ to the Lord, it’s telling us that every generation needs to write its own music. If a time ever comes when the younger generation isn’t writing praises to the Lord, Christianity is dead. Jesus said wise people bring out of their storehouses treasures both old and new. My church sings songs both ancient and modern every Sunday. I love the newer music. But don’t desire to lose the old hymns. The rediscovery of the hymns can be soul-bolstering. It’s a spiritual journey into biblical truth, Christian history, and timeless worship.
Admittedly, not all hymns have retained their richness. Time and language change, and I can’t imagine any church today singing the Isaac Watts hymn ‘Blest Is the Man Whose Bowels Move.’
Some, though, will never be out of date!”
I include today an example of a hymn I have never sung at church, but am truly blown away by its truths – in the lyrics. I did change the “Thee” and “Thou” because I don’t consider hymn writers to be infallible nor do I consider songs about God to be art that is somehow ruined if adapted. I believe the writers who were most sincere about leading the singer to worship HIM would be okay if I made it a little more true to my language today.
Fill my life, O Lord my God, in every part with praise,
that my whole being may proclaim Your being and Your ways.
Not for the lip of praise alone, not even the praising heart,
I ask but for a life made up of praise in every part!
Praise in the common words I speak, life’s common looks and tones,
in fellowship in hearth and home with my beloved ones.
Not in the temple crowd alone where holy voices chime,
but in the silent paths of earth, the quiet rooms of time.
Fill every part of me with praise; let all my being speak
of You and of Your love, O Lord, poor though I be, and weak.
So shall You, Lord, from me, even me, receive the glory due;
and so shall I begin on earth the song forever new.
So shall each fear, each fret, each care be turned into a song,
and every winding of the way the echo shall prolong.
So shall each part of day or night to sacredness be true,
and all my life, in every step be fellowship with You.
THAT is what singing means to me … HIM songs.