I am a youth minister at a small rural church in Texas; therefore, I am blessed to sing hymns every Sunday.  I have been in churches where hymns are viewed as old-fashioned and out-dated.  At those churches there is usually loud music that includes drums, an electric guitar, and rarely an organ.  (I do have to say that losing the organ is fine with me.)  There are times in which the larger churches sing hymns; usually updated versions of the songs.  However, the music seems most pure, and maybe you have experienced this, when the leader stops playing and the band quiets down to almost no music and the church sings an old hymn with just voices raised.

There has been an attempt to make the hymnal more relevant to today by making a new version in 2008 that has hymns, worship songs, and praise songs.  While I understand the effort, many have hymnals associated with a “stiff” church service that is uncomfortable.

While reading a book, I was recently informed that people used to use hymnals as devotionals.  I thought this was an interesting idea so I began to look in my own hymnal to see if I could learn some truths from some of these songs that many believe are no longer relevant.  The hymnal I have is not the 2008 version but the 1991 version.  Going through I found some classic hymns that always have and always will speak to my relationship with Christ and I also found some hymns that I have never heard played, but still ring biblical truths that should be noted.  I want to take a look at these hymns shortly.

First some hymns that might be familiar to all.  At the Cross carries strong biblical truth, but that is not what brought me to this hymn as a child.  The line in the chorus, “And the burden of my heart rolled away,” always caught my attention because I imagined a sort of cheese wheel rolling down the hill out of reach.  I guess this cheese wheel was labeled “burden” but I always got a chuckle out of singing it.  The hymn rings true because it is all about Christ and there is nothing that we have to offer but ourselves.  The last line of the 5th verse says, “Here, Lord, I give myself away, ‘Tis all that I can do.”  How true that really is.  The most we can do is to give ourselves to the one who gave himself.

   Nothing but the Blood is another favorite because of the chorus again.  “Oh! Precious is the flow that makes me white as snow.  No other fount I know, nothing but the blood of Jesus.”  If you have ever watched the crime scene shows on television you will know that blood is always traceable.  One can use a black light to see if blood has dried in a particular place and no matter how good one scrubs or cleans, the blood will show up.  Therefore, it has always amazed me how the blood of Jesus cleanses us white as snow.  Instead of leaving us stained and marked for eternal death, we are Washed in the Blood of Jesus and that leaves us white as snow in the Father’s eyes.

One of my more recent favorites is Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing.  I have grown fond of it because of this line, “Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, prone to leave the God I love; here’s my heart, Lord, take and seal it, seal it for Thy courts above.”  It is a simple reminder that I am in constant struggle with the flesh that wants to pursue its own pleasure.  However, I worship a God that can seal it for his own.  What makes this an even better hymn is the story behind it.  The writer, Robert Robinson, wrote this hymn at a fairly young age.  Through the years he faded away from the faith and it came to the point where he simply wanted to leave everything behind in search for something “worthwhile.”  On his journey he met a young woman who could speak of nothing else but Jesus.  She was studying the hymnal and asked Robinson if he could help her understand a hymn.  She handed him the book which was turned to Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing.  This young woman did not know he was the author until, with tears streaming down his face, he told her that he was the author and what he was going through in his life.  She then began to use his own hymn to bring him back to the faith.  Though we are all “prone to wander” we can rest in the grace that God provides daily.

Next are a couple that I had not heard, you might have, that are very good hymns that just might not have a great tune or melody with them, but the words are still true.  All on the Alter touches on laying one’s selfish desires at the feet of Jesus and giving him all.  The chorus says, “My all for Thee, my all for Thee, who gave Thine all, dear Lord, for me; Thy will divine, hence-forth is mine, to live for Thee, dear Savior, for Thee.”  This is an attitude we all must have.  To give up ourselves to the service of the one “who gave Thine all” for each one of us.

   Take Time to be Holy is another hymn my ears have never heard played.  The second verse, which says, “The world rushes on; spend much time in secret with Jesus alone,” is part of the hymn that was written in 19th century.  It would seem right to say that even in the 21st century this line applies to us all; maybe more now than ever.  We must remember that no matter how crazy our lives may be, we must spend time with Jesus alone.

Lastly, Lord, Make our Homes is incredibly relevant to today in regards with the ways homes are being broken and family life in general is being warped.  The hymn sets itself up in a way that is a prayer to God to make homes “loving,” “caring,” “gentle,” “joyful,” and “a shelter.”  All of these are prayed for in order that others would say, “Love is spoken here,” “Joy is flowing here, ” “Hope is sheltered here,” “Care is given here,” “Hurt is shared here,” “Warmth is glowing here,” and “Friendship’s offered here.”  The home have become a very private, closed-off from the world type of environment.  As Christ-followers our homes should be an example of the love of Christ.

I take all of this room to write about these things because of the truth that can be found in the hymns.  If you are a part of a church that still sings hymns and uses hymnals, think deeply about the truths that are in the songs.  Realize that GOD IS EVERYWHERE, even in hymns that are believed to be out-dated and irrelevant.

In Christ’s Love,

Josh

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