Is that a silly thing to ask or what? I’m hoping that at some point a fog machine is added to the 5 piece rock and roll band we have at church each morning. In fact, I’m not sure I’d be shocked if Jesus rolled up in his Cadillac Escalade sporting 22″ chrome spinner wheelz and jumped out wearing a tye-died shirt, some cargo shorts, and brand new berkenstock sandals…
OK… That’s poppycock. All of it. I don’t even like berkenstocks on sinners, much less on our Savior. I’m going to ruffle feathers here, but I don’t care. Honest to goodness I really don’t like the big band rock presence in church. I love music in nearly all forms and it’s a huge part of my life and passion. But there is something I find contradictory about some of it. I understand even the hymnals weren’t around when Jesus was and certainly not prior, but in terms of tradition alone I find a great deal of solace in the comfort and beauty associated with singing the same timeless songs my Grandma did when we were kids.
I listened to those songs when I played outside, a foreign concept for some kids these days, as it wafted through the kitchen window out to my Grand folk’s barnyard. The same was true with my mom. I remember hearing “How Great Thou Art” at all times of the day during every portion of work or pleasure. The same voice and vibrato I was surrounded with at home could be found in church for Sunday Service and I reflect back on that with comfort and a smile.
I ran across an article on patheos.com titled, “15 Reasons We Should Be Using Hymnals” and I really delved into it. Frankly, it made some really good points. I’ll admit straight up, I was in that camp to begin with, but I found some things that author was extrapolating that I hadn’t been able to put into words. There were even a couple that I hadn’t even given thought to that I found significant.
My voice is somewhere between terrible and the sound of rabid cats making love in a Manhattan alley at midnight. So I need the help. The “shaped notes” of a hymnal help me. I can see where I’m supposed to be in terms of range, the length of my note, and that helps me prepare, breath, and do all the things I’m supposed to. When your Pastor has you recite a snippet of scripture, would you rather read out of your own bible or be pushed through the passage as prompted on a big screen in front of you? I’d bet most would prefer the Good Book. The same applies to the hymns themselves and how we get the most out of singing.
You aren’t able to take that band with you, and as much as I’ve considered a fog machine for my truck, that isn’t practical either for most of us. A hymnal, just like your Bible can travel with you. I can sing anywhere then, and also ‘take ownership’ of the music as well.
A couple of things I’d never considered came from the article that not only do I agree with, but are worthy of pointing out. The act of snagging a hymnal is actually a tactile action. You ‘engage’ with a book, turn pages, and concentrate on something. If you’re half asleep in a pew, it isn’t hard to phone it in when being prompted by a screen.
Not only that, but they do in fact aid in the preservation of the sanctuary itself. Do bibles belong in church? Yup. Can you imagine a church void of them? Nope. What about hymnals? They’re a staple in church and make even the most plain of sanctuaries feel more ‘churchy’ in my estimation. We’re fortunate in our church to have a automated projection screen, but man do I dislike it. There’s nothing more unnatural to me that the blight a big screen is on the picture of a beautiful sanctuary setting.
The last one I noticed that jumped out at me was the fact that hymns make the music itself far less disposable. If you’re at the mercy of a guy behind a computer prompting projection onto a screen it’s really easy to get up and walk out and be done with that tune. A hymnal allows the music to stay with you. That book is consistent, visible, and available. No projected image is so.
So a bit of scripture from Colossians stands out as really low hanging fruit in which to relate…
Colossians 3:16 – Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.
We not only keep these hymns as something timeless, but they align directly with scripture in some cases to actually push the written Word forward, and I love them.
Be salt and light my friends…