I was having a conversation recently with two close friends of mine about hymns. One is not a big fan of hymns and believes that most of them are outdated and unrelatable. The other believes that hymns have their place and that there are many timeless pieces still used today in worship that bring believers to their knees and usher them into the presence of God.
When I was younger I did not like hymns. At the time I believed that the language used in many of them was old and I could not understand nor relate to what was being said; and oftentimes the tune for these hymns were dull and uninspiring. However, as I grew older and matured spiritually, I developed a love for hymns. Over the years, I have found that during some of my darkest moments, when I was unable to remember the promises of the Scriptures, the words and tunes of hymns would come flowing to my mind and heart, until I was able once more to turn my eyes upon Jesus, remember who He is and declare ‘Lord, great is thy faithfulness!’
Give it to Him- He can handle it
One of the things I love about hymns is that each of them has a story behind it. For example, it is said that the day before his wedding, Joseph Scriven’s fiancée was flung from her horse and landed in a nearby creek and died. A while later, he fell in love again only for his new fiancée to get sick and die weeks before their wedding. These devastating experiences drove him closer to Jesus and through the relationship he cultivated with Him through prayer, He was able to pen the hymn What A Friend We Have In Jesus to encourage and comfort His mother when she needed it.
We too, in one way or another will encounter devastating situations that can shake our faith; but these experiences are meant to draw us closer to God. We need to be reminded sometimes that there is nothing too hard for Him to handle. He says “Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is anything too hard for me?” (Jeremiah chapter 32 verse 27). Whatever it is, He can handle it, therefore with boldness, take everything to God in prayer.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew chapter 11 verses 28-30)
Share with others
Not all hymns are the result of hardship. Many hymns were penned together out of a believer's gratitude to God or awe at His marvellous creation as with the case of How Great Thou Art (Carl Boberg; 1885). Others teach a biblical concept such as communion while others may speak about the eternal life with Christ to come or of His faithfulness. Regardless of what they speak about, they are with us today because the writers shared them.
You may not be able to use your experiences to write a hymn or poem, but you can share your message with those around you in one way or another. You can offer a testimony, share the words of a song, dance, pray with and for those around you or simply offer your support in one way or another. But whatever you do, do not be passive but instead share what you have and let the love of God pour through you to others. Allow yourself to be His hands and feet.
He did it for us
“In that old rugged cross, stained with blood so divine, a wondrous beauty I see, for 'twas on that old cross Jesus suffered and died, to pardon and sanctify me” (The Old Rugged Cross, George Bennard 1912)
A recurring theme in many hymns is salvation. When we sing our hymns (and other worship songs), we often reflect on our Lord Jesus and the work He accomplished on the cross for us. He willingly gave up His life in an act of total obedience to the Father, so that you and I can once more be reconciled to God.
When we think of what He did and reflect on our own lives we are left in amazement as we marvel at how he loves us. We are compelled to not just offer our sacrifice of praise to Him, but to also draw closer to Him in prayer and meditation of His Word. We also long for others to return to Him so we begin to share Him with others not just through our words, but also through the way we live.
For me, hymns point us heavenward and cause us to reflect on the goodness, love, grace, mercy, and faithfulness of our God. They also remind us of who we are in Christ and what we have in Him. We are commanded to be “filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns and songs” (Ephesians chapter 5 verse 19) but do not merely sing hymns without spending time in God’s Word. God’s Word is our spiritual food and it is by feeding on it that we grow. So sing your hymns and spiritual songs but stay rooted in the Word of God.
Rose-Ann Durant is a young Christian from Kingston, Jamaica, who is currently living in Barbados. She is the 2021 Basil Sellers International (18-30) Awardee and in August 2021, became a contributing writer for Victorious By Design, a digital and print media group that seeks to encourage women of all ages to walk victoriously into all that God has called them. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, going to the beach, river, and spending time outdoors.