Jim Wilson is the retired director of Community Christian Ministries in Moscow, Idaho. He will be posting regularly, so check back in soon!

Friday, May 05, 2017

Hymn-Singing & Lying

In the 17th century, there was a young man who was a pastor’s son. He objected to the musical arrangement of the Psalms chanted in the church. His father told him that if he did not like the music, he could write his own songs. So he did. His name was Isaac Watts, and he wrote 750 hymns. The one most people would recognize is Joy to the World. Probably the greatest hymn in the English language is his When I Survey the Wondrous Cross. Here is the first verse:
When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of Glory died
My richest gain I count but loss
And pour contempt on all my pride.
Isaac Watts was telling the truth when he wrote this. You can see that those who sing it today might by lying.

A friend told me years ago, “More liars stand behind hymn books than any place else.” I agreed with him, with this exception: They are not being deliberately deceitful. They are unaware of what they are singing. Pay attention to what you are singing. If you do not believe it, do not sing it. If you do believe it, sing it like you mean it. It does not matter if you have a good voice.

The church members might not know what they are singing, but the poets who wrote the lyrics knew and were not lying. They meant the words they wrote. Here is a good example:
Could we with ink the ocean fill,
And were the skies of parchment made,
Were every stalk on earth a quill,
And every man a scribe by trade,
To write the love of God above,
Would drain the ocean dry.
Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
Though stretched from sky to sky.

- Fredrick M. Lehman

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