Suppose you were asked to describe the "music of the church."
Many of us who have been brought up in a traditional "mainline" experience might use the word "hymns" in our description. Those with a more contemporary background might describe the music as "worship songs" or "praise choruses" although the purpose of the music is the same regardless of worship style.
Hymns focus our attention on the goodness and glory of the Lord as we worship. The classic hymns of Martin Luther, Isaac Watts, Charles Wesley, and many others have blessed millions. And modern hymn writers such as Twila Paris, Keith and Kristyn Getty, and Stuart Townend continue to put biblical truth in poetic form and turn our attention to the Lord who is great and “most worthy of praise” (Psalm 96:4).
One simple definition of the term "hymn" is "a religious song or poem, typically of praise to God." Another definition is "a lyric poem, reverently and devotionally conceived, designed to be sung to express the worshipper's attitude toward God or God's purposes in human life."
The word "hymn" comes from the Greek word "hymnos" (a song of praise). The practice of singing hymns is called "hymnody," and the same word refers to a collective body of hymns (for example, those of a particular denomination or period).
Since starting as Music Directors at Sharon Church, we have discovered (to our surprise) that each of us has a unique set of "familiar" hymns and we often mistakenly assume that the familiarity is shared. We have come to view this as a true blessing -- as we not only introduce new hymns to Sharon Church, but also to each other. Drawing upon this body of hymnody, we're striving to enrich the musical palette of the choirs and congregation of the church.
So with that purpose in mind our special music in April included:
"Because He Lives" (a hymn in the "gospel" tradition by Gloria and Bill Gaither)
"I Know Not Why God's Wondrous Grace" (a modern hymn by Stuart Townend, original text by D. Whittle, inspired by 2 Timothy 1:12, and adapted by Stuart Townend)
"If My People Will Pray" (a modern hymn by Jimmy Owens, based on 2 Chronicles 7:14)
In May, we are singing:
"Til the Storm Passes By" (a hymn in the gospel tradition by Mosie Lister)
"I Know That My Redeemer Lives" (a more contemporary hymn by Scott Soper)
"O Breath of God" (a contemporary hymn by Keith Getty and Phil Madeira)
"May God Bestow on Us His Grace" (words by Martin Luther, music by Mark Gulden)
In Children's Music Time (Sundays, 11:15 am to noon) we are introducing "hymns" that are especially "kid-friendly" -- some old favorites, some much more current. Our plan is to continue this in an effort to familiarize and enrich the children with the music of the church.
Ephesians 5:18b-19 indicates a direct connection between being filled with the Spirit and singing. “Be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord.”
So we encourage you to sing the music of our church from your heart with gusto!
Blessings, Mark and Treva