Through the years my love of hymns has turned into a passion. I grew up in church with hymns as the main mode of singing praise to God as a congregation. The lyrics, melodies, and harmonies took up residence in my heart (and are still there!). Looking back on my girlhood days, I can see what an impact hymns had on my spiritual growth. The average Christian today doesn’t seem to know many hymns, and this is sad! A good understanding of hymns is being lost in our era, but that doesn’t need to be so. The gift of hymns should not be left in yesteryear. Hymns are a beautiful, useful form of musical poetry that needs preserved in our hearts. Maybe these few things about hymns will rekindle a desire in you to get to know the hymns better!
There is something phenomenal about the way hymns are written, the way they encapsulate richness of doctrine and depth of meaning. Because they are written to match a musical tune (or sometimes vice versa), the words often rhyme and are usually easy to memorize. One important thing to always remember is that hymns are not equivalent to Scripture. This same truth applies to any newer spiritual songs, too. I love many newer songs, one of my favorite current composers being my sister. Simply make sure that the truths taught by a hymn or spiritual song line up with God’s Word.
There is so much to learn about God by implementing hymns into your everyday life. Several good, conservative radio stations play hymn arrangements on their air waves. Singing a hymn as a family at home is a fabulous way to utilize hymns in your day. There are endless fun ways to use hymns too. Did you know that some hymns can be sung to more than one tune? Some hymns can be sung in a round form. There are even hymns written specifically with children in mind!
There are SO many hymns out there! We are truly blessed to live in 2022. Even 200 years ago, the amount of hymns written was very few compared to the amount we have to choose from today! That being said – some hymns end up poorly written, it is true, either with difficult rhythms or confusing lyrics. There are definitely some hymns that I don’t particularly love playing the piano for. If there are certain hymns that don’t set well for you, that’s ok. Thankfully there are plenty more amazing hymns written than there are lame ones.
I also love studying the stories of how hymns came about. So many hymns we love have authors who went through unimaginable loss. Others saw a Biblical truth that was being lost in their society that needed attention, and they captured part of Christian history by writing a song about it! Some hymn writers were preachers; some were activists; some were housewives. There are many great books of hymn stories available today. These kind of books encourage me in my walk with Christ, because the stories help me see that people are people no matter what century they were born in.
There is such comfort in music. Think about how it puts you at ease when you visit a church and hear familiar music. The most familiar music of the church house, to young and old alike, is the hymns. God designed music to connect us, to encourage us, to put us at peace. Let the gift of the hymn writers’ music speak to your spirit!
One more thing I love about hymns is hymn playing! Learning to play hymns in church is an outstanding way to grow as a piano student. Using hymns as an example in piano lessons is one of my favorite ways to teach a student fundamental things about music. If you learn to play hymns with understanding, you will be able to play all other music with understanding! The way hymns are so concisely organized into musical form is not by accident. God loves for things to be done decently and in order, and this pattern of order is found over and over in endless hymns.
Alright – I should stop here and let you discover the gift of hymns for yourself. This isn’t something that will transpire in your heart overnight. If you aren’t good friends with hymns yet, it will take some time to familiarize yourself with the hymn world. However, I promise you, it will be 100% worth it. I would love to hear about your journey to an appreciation for hymns! If you already love hymns, I would love to know an aspect about them that you like!