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.
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:
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.
God is Three, and God is One;
And I next acknowledge duly
Manhood taken by the Son.
Do you have a favorite hymnal? Do you remember a hymnal from your childhood?