With a Song in my Heart
I love the old hymns. And not only me, but I can’t tell you how many dear old saints of my generation and beyond that I have heard utter “If I had only two books, it would be my Bible and my Hymn Book!”. And, I guess I tend to agree with them to an extent. I have more of them stored in my memory bank than I can count.
Perhaps I developed my love of the old hymns from my dad. I don’t suppose he would have ever been considered an ‘accomplished musician’, but no one loved to sing the old hymns more than he did. I never knew a time when he didn’t sing in the choir. And not only the choir but he carried that love for the old hymns home with him. As was our custom, Mom was the designated chief cook, Dad was the chief bottle washer and it fell my lot to dry ’em and put ’em away. In my mind’s eye, I can still see Dad leaning over the sink, sweat dripping from his brow, ‘warshin’ the dishes, and humming some favorite old hymn while tending away that little chore. That was one of his defining characteristics.
And I feel quite sure that my dad developed his love of the old hymns from his dad. My grand dad was a dear old-time Methodist saint. What a great example he set for his children and his children’s children. I never saw him lose his patience, never saw him angry, never heard him utter a curse word; but I suppose he always had a song in his heart. He too was certainly no ‘accomplished musician’, but his heart was surely in it. He too invariably hummed familiar old hymns as he was going about his chores. That was also one of his defining characteristics. No wonder that I too love the old hymns; I guess you could say it’s ‘in my genes’.
The singing of hymns is a time honored tradition. Our almighty God originated and established the tradition. He loves Christian music—both gospel music (singing the good news about God) and praise and worship (singing love songs to God). God loves them so much that He dedicated a great portion of His Holy Word to the lyrics of wonderful Christian hymns. Most students of the Bible agree that the book of hymns (Psalms) is the longest book in the Bible. If the calculation is based on the number of verses, or the number of chapters, or the number of pages, it would prove to be correct.
Not only did God provide us with the lyrics to wonderful Christian hymns, but He admonished us to sing them! In Ephesians 5:19, the great Apostle Paul wrote, “Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord (KJV).” Again, the Apostle Paul wrote to the Colossians, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord (Verse 3:16 KJV).” It’s interesting to note that for those of us who can’t ‘carry a tune in a bucket’, He provided an out. He exhorts that particular group of us to ‘make melody in our hearts’. Several Psalms are less complimentary when exhorting us to ‘make a joyful noise’.
Now, our younger generation has developed a new genre of Christian music. It is defined as ‘Praise Music’. It is often viewed with much disdain by older Christians. I suppose many of us old-timers would regard such music as no more than ‘joyful noise’. We are so resistant to change. I’ve heard a number of various senior worshipers describe this contemporary style of music in rather derogatory terms such as ‘7/11 music’ —7 words repeated 11 times. And they don’t like it. (Hmm, I suppose that, by that definition, Handel’s revered “Hallelujah Chorus” would fall into that category). Nevertheless, our sacred old ‘Hymn Books’ are being banished in favor of huge screens displaying the lyrics to these various new ‘praise and worship’ songs. And the youth among our congregations absolutely love them. I must say that watching our future generation singing those new ‘praise and worship’ songs, with such enthusiasm is quite heartwarming to me.
And I must admit that even I have developed a deep love and admiration for several of these new songs. I have no reason not to believe that God is still inspiring songs that speak to our hearts. During this current time in my life when I am enduring trials, and stress, and grief as I watch my precious wife waste away in the throes of dementia, several of these new songs have etched out a permanent place in my heart. One such song is the beautiful praise song written by Matt Redman with the recurring theme:
“Oh no, You never let go
Through the calm and through the storm
Oh no, You never let go
In every high and every low
Oh no, You never let go
Lord, You never let go of me
WOW! What a promise! I have no idea who Matt Redman is, but he surely must have also witnessed the loving, powerful presence of God during some time of stress test in his life. Those wonderful lyrics had to be inspired by God Almighty. To this day, I cannot listen to and/or sing that song without tears of worship in my eyes. It eases my sorrow, lifts my spirit, gives me peace, and increases my faith.
Thank you Lord, for giving that wonderful musical testimony to Matt Redman; and thank you Matt, for sharing it with all of us. May God bless you!