My friend Tanabu Girl’s last comment has tickled my noggin.  Her church (Missouri Synod Lutheran) has new hymnals with a small triangle next to the last verse of hymns when that last verse is a benediction to the Trinity (see the last verse of Only-Begotten as an example). The small triangle is a reminder to stand to sing that verse.  How glorious is that? 

I love hymnals.

We took a hymnal with us on our honeymoon, I love them that much.  I collect hymnals and have a shelf dedicated to my collection, close to the piano.  I love to compare renditions, find new verses which we never sing anymore, learn the names of tunes, interchange tunes, and finally play and sing through them. 

I’m sad at the thought of hymnals going the way of IBM Selectric typewriters.  I grieve at the trend of the modern church to sing off the wall.  Precious few choruses match the weight of glory that a hymn has. Praise songs come and go; most have the life span of a mosquito.  And even if we sing older hymns off the wall (you know I mean with a projector), we are singing in unison and miss the texture and depth of harmony.   We aren’t even aware of what we have lost.

I’m not against new songs.  We’re told to sing a new song to the Lord.  Most of our new songs, sadly, reflect the shallowness of our culture.  I’m thankful for the few which don’t.

But I digress.  Hymnals are great devotional tools.  It is good to read through them.  A phrase may just attach itself to your soul.

 Solid joys and lasting treasure none but Zion’s children know
They who trust Him wholly, find Him wholly true
How oft in grief, hath He not brought you relief?

A friend used this verse on baby shower invitations:

People and realms of ev’ry tongue dwell on His love with sweetest song;
And infant voices shall proclaim their earthly blessings on His name.

One of my favorite afternoons in the last five years was spent with a retired Canadian friend, Marjorie.  Marjorie grew up in the Anglican church as a child in Jamaica.  I had bags of basil plants which needed to be cleaned and trimmed to make pesto.  We stood together at the counter snipping leaves while singing to the music of A Vaughan Williams Hymnal, surely one of my favorite CDs of all time.  Dear Marjorie grew up on these hymns and had them memorized. We joined our voices, alternately thin and sketchy, bold and booming, and sang our hearts out. 

Firmly I believe and truly,
God is Three, and God is One;
And I next acknowledge duly
Manhood taken by the Son.

I have my eye on a hymnal which doesn’t yet have a home on my shelf, The New English Hymnal. Of course, I’d need to get this too.  Did I mention that we will attend an Evensong at the York Minster? 

Do you have a favorite hymnal?  Do you remember a hymnal from your childhood?


9 thoughts on “Hymnals

  1. My 1928 BOC/Hymnal combo has hymns that bring back deep memories for me.  I am reading about hymns, but share your admiration of the oldie, but goodies.
    When I was in York, circa 1978, I *overlooked* the Minster – much to my shame – because you cant do everything and our focus was a student at the University there.
    Someday I will return.
    Keep educating us on *awesome* hymns.

  2. And I thought my BIL was gaga over hymnals, but I don’t think he took one on his honeymoon 🙂  BTW, he just loves the new LCMS hymnal.  Actually, I groan every time he brings it up (again!) on his blog.

  3. I still remember which hymn I memorized first. When I was 8 years old, my Sunday school teacher had each of us children memorize “How Great Thou Art” — to this day, I sing it when silencing my self for prayer. Through the years, many more hymns have found their way into my heart’s memory, and their words recall places and people along my spiritual journey. I am thankful that our worship team intersperses hymns among the contemporary praise songs — I guess “off the wall” is better than not at all. A lovely post to read and write about, by the way. Blessings, Laurie

  4. i love hymnals too! the look and the feel as well as the words. i, unfortunately don’t read music or play piano, but i remember as a newly graduated high school senior whose parents were going through a divorce, i would drag my guitar and hymnals to my grandma’s basement and sing them, lifting my spirit. i didn’t realize at the time what it meant to worship, but obviously my heart and soul did.  
    This brings to mind that my sister had asked me to sing and play on  guitar a song that a friend wrote and record it, but since i don’t read music that won’t work. do you perchance play guitar or have a music-reading family member who does and would be willing? Her friend is now a quadraplegic (Lou Gehrig’s disease) and unable to do it for himself. Just a thought.

  5. Carol, Good news, hymns are on their way back. I think they may still be projected onto walls  but I see a real trend especially among young people. On the way home from college the other day we all started talking about and then singing our favorite hymns. We used to collect hymn books and I went to pick one up the other day to see if the hymn LaurieH had on one of her latest posts which is now one of my new favorites.
    Anyway. Evensong at York, I’ve been to York a number of times(look for the “Shambles” not far away) Inside the minster look for the big round window. IT will look alittle grey and clouded. That is because on the day the next to last archbishop (a thorough non-believer) was  formally placed into office, lightening struck from a perfectly cloudless blue sky and started a fire (true!!) I mostly know evensong best at Westminster (and Canterbury)  Enjoy! but warning….sometimes they use modern music and it aint the same…..If you can get to either Westminster or Canterbury for evensong, get there as early as possible, in the front of the line. Usually then you get to sit in the”good seats”, the carved ancient wooden choir seats just across from the men/boys choirs. What a thrill. Just follow along with the plastic sheet and the little book and listen for the leader’s cues, kneeling is a precious part of it all. OH goosebumps!  Enjoy my friend! M

  6. I have been struggling with our new church a little.  We are going to a Reformed Episcopal Church now and as all of this is new to me (the liturgy and such) it has been a big adjustment for me.  To like the hierarchy and everything.  I love the hymns and liturgy but miss a bit of the ‘freedom’ such as going up front to kneel.  But as my DH reminded me, I can kneel right in the pew and pray until I am satisfied, I just have to get over my insecurities and waiting for someone else to do it first.  All that to say, thank you for this post.  (And the comment from Roseteacup) I am struggling to remember that it is the Lord who looks on the heart and I am not to presume upon the hidden things of Him but to look faithfully ever upward and press on to the finish.

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