Tapping into that well

When I was a kid, I sang hymns in church.

For those of you who may haven’t been in a hymn-singing church, or are young enough that you don’t know what “hymns” are, let me explain…

Hymns are songs that were (and sometimes still are) sung in church. They differ from worship music that started in the 1970s or 1980s. Hymn writers spent a lot of time on the lyrics and often based them on passages or concepts from the Bible.

I do love at least some of the songs in contemporary worship music – and the writers also take care in their craft.

Both styles – modern and old – tap into a part of my heart that merely reading words can’t.

At the end of the summer, my wife and I visited some friends who are part of a church that sings mostly hymns. The Sunday we visited, there was a hymn sing. The bulk of that service was devoted to members of the church sharing their favorite hymn and all of us singing that song.

It was great.

Memories flooded back from my childhood, and tears came to my eyes more than once.

I asked a leader in that church if I could have one of their hymnals (a book containing the hymns). He agreed.

So I brought the hymnal home and put it on the chair next to my bed. Once every week or two, I change the pages that are shown to a different hymn. Some days I look at that new hymn, remember the tune and ponder the lyrics.

That has been a wonderful addition to my busy days.

I’d encourage you to buy a hymnal. (Just search “hymnal” on Amazon.) Even if you can’t read music or sing very well, the lyrics often contain deep and rich meaning. They may be a comfort to your soul. They have been to mine.

Paul Merrill writes here every First Friday.

Note from Jon: There is a resource called hymnary.org that has texts and tunes from many hymnals. It’s not a substitute for an actual bound book. but it does help you find lyrics you only remember in fragments. “The Solid Rock” at hymnary.org.