A bit about hymns
- David Brensinger
- Jun 06, 2013
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Do you ever think about it? Or do you just participate, or choose not to? What are hymns, and why we do we sing them?
In the book Sing with Understanding…, authors Elrath & McEskew write that a hymn is "...a lyric poem, reverently and devotionally conceived, which is designed to be sung and which expresses the worshipper's attitude toward God or God's purposes in human life.”
A simpler definition is: a song in praise or honor of God.
So while we, individually, may have an emotional connection or disconnection with a given hymn, the purpose always is, or should be, God-focused. Participation, ranging from hearty singing to simply opening the hymnal and doing the best you can, seems to be imperative. It is part of what we offer in the liturgy to God.
It’s only been in the last ten years or so that I’ve come to have a favorite hymn. It’s #665 in the Episcopal Hymnal 1982 that we have in our pews. The title is “All my hope on God is founded.” And that first line seems to say it all. British poet Robert Bridges wrote the words, based on an earlier German hymn. You can see the entire text at this here.
The hymntune is by British composer Herbert Howells. The tune name Michael honors his son who died in childhood. You can hear a version of it here:
But, as glorious as I find the music to be, it’s the text that speaks in ways that I can’t. Just as the first line makes a significant statement, the final words are the exclamation point: “Christ doth call one and all: ye who follow shall not fall.”
I wish you hearty and meaningful singing!