Today we sang hymns while gathered around my mother-in-law’s sickbed. Even the hospice nurse joined in. Everyone loves the hymns. Everyone.
As a boy my favorite songs were the ones found within the white-covered hymnals kept on the backs of the wooden pews. These weathered books were full of rich melodies. Half my childhood took place in those books.
I come from people who never called it “worship music,” neither did we have Power Point lyrics projected on screens, or on-staff graphics designers handling all 18 of our social media accounts.
No. When it came to music, in those days we just called it “song singing.” Plain and simple. You stood; you sang reverently with fellow Baptists. No stage lights. No fog machines. If some unfortunate soul mistakenly clapped during an uptempo number, he or she was dragged behind the church and beheaded.
Everyone has their favorite hymns, of course. My granny’s favorite was “Old Rugged Cross.” Another golden standard is “In the Garden.” And you can’t beat “Amazing Grace,” “Blessed
Assurance,” “How Great Thou Art,” or “Great is Thy Faithfulness.”
And then you have the deepwater Baptist specific hymns of my childhood. We sang these songs at the end of service when we begged sinners to repent so we could all go to lunch.
We sang songs like “Almost Persuaded,” and “Eternity, Eternity, Where Will You Spend Eternity?” and “Lord, I Don’t Want to Burn In Hell.”
But no hymn—and I mean no hymn—does it for me like “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms.” It is one of my all-time favorites.
I began singing in church when I was 8 years old. I started playing piano at age 9. I can’t read a lick of music, and I’m not a great musician. But in a tiny congregation with a median age of 75, you don’t have to be. If you show one nanoscopic shred of musical talent in a small…