Hymn Ramblings...:)

Anyone who knows me very well or who has read much of my blog knows I love hymns.  I blog a lot about hymns.  I consider it one of the great blessings of my life at this point to be in a church that still sings hymns...as in, we pull out the hymnals every week and sing as a choir and congregation with piano and organ (and sometimes instrumental ensemble) accompaniment.  There are few things more beautiful to me than that.  Except when Lyndel does as he did this morning, discreetly motioning to the instrumentalists to stop playing on the final chorus of "He Hideth My Soul"...because a hymn sung A Capella in four part (or more) harmony by choir and congregation is one of the most beautiful things on earth.

I realized something this morning (not for the first time) as we were singing: very often, my favorite verse of a song is the next-to-last verse.  I'm not sure if that is because those verses are actually so much better, or if they were less familiar to me as an adult because I hadn't sung them as much.  I know that sometimes they tend to be overlooked.  I grew up in a church where quite frequently, in the interest of time, I suppose, we would sing the first, second, and fourth verse of a four-verse hymn, or the first, second, third, and fifth verse of a five-verse hymn.  I *love* the fact that more often than not at our current church, we sing all verses of the hymns we sing.  There are exceptions, like the medley of  "first verses" we sang this morning, but they don't seem to be the norm.

I have to interject here...It's always hard for me to name my "favorite hymn".  I have different favorites in different seasons of life, and so many that are "lifelong favorites".   When I'm hard pressed for a specific answer, I'll usually say "Blessed Assurance", which I have loved since early childhood.  But "It is Well" and "O Sacred Head now Wounded" and "When I Survey" and "Crown Him with Many Crowns" and "Praise Him, Praise Him, Jesus Our Blessed Redeemer" and "Have Faith in God" and "On Christ the Solid Rock I Stand" and "Day by Day" and "Great is Thy Faithfulness" and....you get the idea...they could all be called my "favorites".  Oh, and let's not forget almost any of the "new" hymns by Stuart Townend and Keith and Kristyn Getty.  I just love hymns. :)

Another of my favorites is "He Keeps Me Singing".  Specifically the fourth verse.  I remember noticing that particular verse for the first time at BMA camp in Ringgold, LA, when I was 17.  Our family was going through some deep waters at the time...my dad's unemployment and health problems, my grandfather's end stage cancer...in fact, Daddy and I would be called back home by my grandmother just a couple of days later, arriving in time to be there with them for his last days.  I've loved that fourth verse ever since.   Years ago at our current church, we sang this hymn several times in a row *without* singing the fourth verse.  Verses 1-3, and 5, but no 4.  I finally went to Lyndel and said, "Can we sing the fourth verse next time?" :)  I only remember leaving out the fourth verse once since then, and he specifically mentioned it to me and explained why he had had to leave it out. :)   (Yet another reason why Lyndel is our friend-el...and if you weren't at his 25th anniversary celebration, I'm sorry that you won't understand that decidedly insider reference. :))

Anyway, all that to say, "next-to-last" verses are important. :)  This morning I noticed another one I love.  The third verse of "He Hideth My Soul"...

With numberless blessings each moment He crowns,
And filled with His fullness divine,
I sing in my rapture, oh, glory to God
For such a Redeemer as mine!
He hideth my soul in the cleft of the rock
That shadows a dry, thirsty land;
He hideth my life in the depths of His love,
And covers me there with His hand,
And covers me there with His hand.
~Fanny Crosby

Isn't that beautiful?  What incredible words!

What is your favorite hymn?  Your favorite hymn verse?  Is there an often-overlooked verse you love?  I'd love to hear about them in the comments!


1 comment:

robert said...

I greatly appreciated your blog. As one who has studied and written about hymns for 40 years, I certainly share your sentiments.

And my wife and I are currently attending a church where the service leader routinely omits the third stanza. (I can identify!) Not that I think we need to sing every verse every time. But let's get around to verse 3 once in awhile!

I write a daily blog on hymns and their history, Wordwise Hymns, that I think you'd enjoy. You mention, for instance, that you love the hymn "He Keeps Me Singing." Do you know the touching story behind it. You'll find in on my February 14th post, here...