Tuesday, June 16, 2020

On Hymns We Used To Sing And Hear

Years ago I started looking for a good CD (that's how long ago it was) with all the hymns we used to sing in church. I wanted my children to know Blessed Assurance, Sweet Hour of Prayer, The Old Rugged Cross, All Creatures of Our God and King, and a hundred others, and I knew they wouldn't learn them at our church.

Yes, hymns make appearances at our church, but precious few get sung even in consecutive years, and those often have new-fangled praise choruses forcibly inserted.

I know I'm once again sounding like old, bitter grownup church kid. But, I do have something positive to say. I have finally found that CD—albeit not physically, but on Spotify, which I hadn't heard of when I began this quest.

The answer proved to be Baptist Hymnal Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 by Tony Weeks. These recordings are not what I set out to find. I wanted something that sounded close to how the hymns were sung at my home church. I thought that would be easy to find. It was not.

Tony Weeks' recordings are not close to my hymn-singing background either. But, by the time I discovered him, I was desperate. And these acoustic-guitar renditions are very listenable (after all, who really drives to the park with a pipe organ and choir as the soundtrack). They reflect the same spirit as congregational hymn singing. These albums don't so much sound like the Sunday mornings of my youth, but they feel like them. They stand in the stream of tradition.

That's really the crux of the matter, right? I want my children to know the songs I sang as a child in church, in part because my parents and grandparents and beyond sang the same songs. And, if you'll permit my bitter traditionalist persona to pose a question:

When was the last time we sang Awesome God? When was the last time we sang Oceans? We sang the hymns for generations, but when a song is written for the moment, that's exactly how long it's good for.

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