Friday, August 29, 2008

My Favorite Hymns: Foreword

I wanted to write a blog about my favorite hymns, but choosing my favorites among all the hymns I love proved difficult. Who could not like "In the Garden" or "Sweet Hour of Prayer"? Who would not be stirred by "God of Our Fathers, Whose All Mighty Hand,"? (#14) Who could not feel the joy when we exalt "Christ the Lord Is Risen Today"? (#13) Or the sorrow in "Were You There?"(#17) Who does not feel the acceptance in "Jesus Loves Me"? (#15)

I can’t forget “God of Grace and God of Glory,” (#18) “Faith of Our Fathers,” “Come, Thou Almighty King,” “All Creatures of Our God and King,” “I Know My Redeemer Lives,” (#19) “Have Thine Own Way, Lord,” “Nearer My God to Thee,” “Rise up, O Men of God,” “Bread of the World in Mercy Broken,” “Break Thou the Bread of Life,” (#20) or “Rock of Ages.”

At Sunday School and Vacation Bible School, we sang “Fairest Lord Jesus,” “Jesus Loves the Little Children,” “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” “Lord, I Want to Be a Christian,” and “This Is My Father’s World and felt the love. Even so, much as I love them, these don’t quite make it to the top of my list of favorites

I have a large number of CDs of The Cedarmont Kids© singing all the hymns and Sunday School songs that I loved as a child. I look over the indexes and think, “Oh, yes, I remember this. I loved it.” If I tried to list them all, this would be merely a roll call of great hymns.

Then there are some new hymns that I have come to appreciate. Notably, “Shout to the Lord,”(#16) “Awesome God,” and “Lord, I Lift Your Name on High” fill me with delight.
I especially like “They Will Know We Are Christians by Our Love.” (#12) The sentiment so exactly captures one of my beliefs – that it isn’t so much what the different denominations believe as how well we exemplify Christianity in our lives. How well we walk the walk, not how well we talk the talk.

Looking back on my teaching career, I am proudest that my students told me they knew I was a Christian by how I treated them. I never preached. Readers of my blogs know more about what I believe than they did, but the students told me that I was fair, that I looked for and saw the good in them, that I believed in them, that I was Christian. We lead best by example, not by force, not by words, by our love.

Still even though there are many hymns I love, I do have some favorites.

11. His Eye Is on the Sparrow:
Okay, I never said I’d narrow it down to 10. Given what I’ve said, how could a hymn that reads: “I sing because I’m happy; I sing because I’m free...” not be one of my all time favorites. There is great comfort in “His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.” Some might feel spied on, but I feel protected. I love this hymn; I can’t omit it.
Words: Civillia D. Martin
Music: Charles H. Gabriel

Tomorrow I’ll list number 10 through 7.

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