A recent faith column regarding church music sparked an unusual number of comments from people I’ve seen around town.
Most recently at Village Cleaners and at Belk’s, a couple of women stopped to talk and to tell about a hymn they particularly liked.
After that, I noticed a short item about church music in the “Biblical Recorder,” the official publication of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina, that piqued my interest.
The writer was Kenny Lamm, a worship and music consultant for the Convention, who suggested that churches stuck in the worship-style of the 1950s but seeking to move to new approaches, in some instances have chosen praise and worship choruses but ignored excellent new contemporary songs and hymns being written right now.
“To ignore the great music of this decade ignores how God is active in the church today,” he writes. “ Also, in general, the music of this decade is much more rich in theology than that of the ’70s and ’80s.”
Reading church newsletters, a habit necessary to my continuing education, provided yet another nudge that music in the church may really be as important as I have always thought it was.
In the newsletter from Durham’s First Presbyterian I noted an item about an “Old Fashioned Hymn Sing” held during the 11 a.m. worship service on a recent Sunday.
One of the pastors issued an invitation for individuals to suggest a hymn with a personal recommendation and a possible explanation as to why the hymn was special, like the hymn you sang at your daughter’s birth, or the hymns you go to for comfort and support, or your parents’ hymn or your wedding hymn.
All this makes me wonder if hymn singing might be enjoying long-deferred attention and if some churches might be recovering from an era when “7-11” choruses (seven words sung over and over for 11 times) have taken top billing in praise and worship.
For whatever reason, all of these things are responsible for the following invitation to faith-column readers:
Let me hear from you about a special hymn in your life. Send email, post card or letter and remember to include the name and location of your church. Your contribution will be used in an upcoming column as we continue to enjoy talking about church music.
So what is my special hymn?
Not necessarily my favorite, but special, is “Blessed Assurance.” It brings back pleasant memories and makes me feel safe and loved.
My daddy, a Presbyterian elder who taught Sunday school and could talk all day about Josephus, a first century historian and his famous history of the Jews, sang tenor. He would sort of cock his head to one side and let ‘er roll on this one.
Sitting next to him in church, this little girl always felt safe and happy, knowing that he was the most powerful and generous man in the whole world. The words also brought my church’s big theological ideas right down to the pew where our family sat.
“Heir of salvation, purchase of God, born of the Spirit, washed in his blood.”
Contact Flo Johnston at firstname.lastname@example.org or 2200 Elm Ave., Apt. 114, Laurinburg, 28352 or call 910-361-4135.