Tried and True Hymns

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 church, they make you sing at every wedding, funeral, offertory, Wednesday night meeting, youth group car wash, and bowling tournament.

Thus, I have played hymns at one thousand-and-one funerals. I’ve picked guitar at countless gravesides. I have sung at so many weddings that I don’t care if I ever see another chocolate fondue fountain again.

And even after all that singing, “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms” remains my favorite hymn.

I first memorized the tune when I was a 12-year-old. I learned it for a wedding held at a rural Methodist church. A young widow and widower were getting married and asked me to sing at their ceremony. Their spouses had recently died and they had lots of children—nine kids between them both.

The most touching elements of the humble service were the framed photos of the deceased spouses beside the altar. Each photograph was adorned in white flowers and lit candles. I remember there was a unique mixture of grief and love within that chapel. Everyone could feel it.

Anyway, I had one job during the ceremony. I was supposed to sing all three verses of “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms,” with Miss Hazel playing piano behind me.

My cue was to wait for the preacher to give me The Nod.

My big moment came after the vows. When the old preacher nodded, I cleared my throat.


I totally blanked out.

My body froze. I couldn’t remember anything. No words. No melody. Squat.

In this moment of horror, don’t ask me why, but I started weeping. And even at this age I’m not sure if I was crying because I was embarrassed or because I was moved. Or maybe it was because my own father had recently died.

Either way, when a 12-year-old starts sobbing onstage at your wedding, your special day has pretty much gone to heck.

Except that didn’t happen.

Without missing a step, the old Methodist preacher sidled up beside me and put his arm around my shoulder. He began singing in a baritone voice. As he sang, I could see his eyes were bright and a little moist.

“What a fellowship, what a joy divine,
“Leaning on the everlasting arms…”

I began signing along. So did the happy couple. Then the whole congregation. And I don’t mean to be melodramatic, but it was a profound experience that I never forgot.

When the ceremony was over, the preacher came to find me. And I just knew what he was going to do. He was going to do what preachers do: make an object lesson out of the whole ordeal.

He was going to act pious and say something about how unseen arms were holding us during our hours of great need. He was going to say that just when we thought we were finished, a miracle arrived and pulled us through.

But no. Instead, the old Methodist slapped my shoulder and said, “Boy, kid, you really muffed that one.”

And we both started laughing.

Then he pulled me into a hug with his two spindly old arms and said, “That old song always makes me cry.”

And even after all these years, today I realized that the song still does the same to me.


  1. Steve McCaleb - July 31, 2021 7:02 am

    Precious memories…how they linger, how they ever flood my soul. They say you can’t turn back the clock. They’re wrong. You just took me back 60 years to a gentler, slower , simpler time. Thanks for the memories. God bless you and all your family in this saddest of times.

  2. An old Pike County Troy) boy - July 31, 2021 8:22 am

    Amen brother Sean. I have the same result when we sing “Just a Closer Walk with Thee”, “In the Garden” and about 20 others. But my all-time favorite was penned, I believe, by an old South Alabama boy by the name of Hiram (AKA Hank) Williams..

  3. Elaine Wilson - July 31, 2021 8:29 am

    My younger sister and I shared a double bed. Every night before we went to sleep I would sing the Lord’s prayer. I sang it for her the night she died. She was only 33 years old and died of breast cancer.

  4. Leigh Amiot - July 31, 2021 9:17 am

    Elvis Presley’s gospel album “How Great Thou Art”…every song on it

    Our hearts and prayers are still with you all during this difficult yet sacred time.

  5. chatfield84 - July 31, 2021 9:46 am

    I am an lover of old hymns myself and old hymnals. My dad, a pastor of small Baptist churches his whole life, loved “Victory in Jesus” and “Have a Little Talk with Jesus”. No, there was never words on a screen, or guitars, or sound system. Just some people who would turn to ‘hymn number 282’ because that was what was listed in the mimeographed bulletin and sing like our lives depended on it. They all still make me cy.

  6. Barbara - July 31, 2021 9:57 am

    Absolutely precious. Bless your tender heart. ❤️🙏

  7. Virginia Russell - July 31, 2021 9:59 am

    I was raised Presbyterian, but on Sunday and Thursday nights we sang from the Cokesbury Hymnal. At the end of revival sermons we sang Just as I Am. The old church has been demolished, but you took me back there today. You’re also taking me back to the vigil at my mother’s bedside. I’m so glad you can be there.

  8. oldlibrariansshelf - July 31, 2021 9:59 am

    Sean, I’m in a place in my life where almost EVERY hymn makes me cry! Thank you for sharing your heart and your humor so profoundly well! (I’m glad to hear that a Methodist preacher came to your rescue. We Methodists tend to lean a great deal on grace.)

    • Holley Calmes - August 2, 2021 2:19 pm

      Bless you Dear…I’m at that same stage of life too. But they are sweet, good tears.

  9. Sue Rhodus - July 31, 2021 10:23 am

    So many churches have stages and musical production now instead of alters and alter calls. Give me that ole time religion where you can feel the hand of God moving in the congregation.

  10. James B. Lanier, Jr. - July 31, 2021 10:24 am

    You just recited the song titles of every song I had ever heard or attempted to sing…until Elvis came on the scene. It too reminds me of my folks, especially my mom, RA’s, VBS, and dinner on the ground. Thanks for the memories!

  11. Becky Kaufman - July 31, 2021 10:49 am

    Yes, I’m crying.

    • Oldfart - August 1, 2021 11:01 pm

      I don’t think we’re alone either.

  12. Samantha - July 31, 2021 11:04 am

    “…a joy divine” awaits Mother Mary. Lovely memories and music is truly a balm for the soul. I have no doubt she was comforted by every note and word.

  13. Deb Warner - July 31, 2021 11:05 am

    I was privileged to sing at the funerals of all four of my grandparents and both of my husband’s parents. “How Great Thou Art” brings tears for me every time. Wishing you and your family strength, grace and peace.

  14. Debbie - July 31, 2021 11:30 am

    We sang around my mother’s death bed, knowing that death would come at any moment. She’d not breathe for a few minutes, then all of a sudden she’d take a breath… She did this several times as if to tease us (which she loved to do), and it became one last sweet time with Mama. Precious memories…… My heart goes out to y’all.

  15. Lydia - July 31, 2021 11:44 am

    Great one,Sean!

  16. Debbie g - July 31, 2021 11:54 am

    Amen Thank u Sean for having us all with your family we are there with you singing and praying love y’all

  17. Janet W. - July 31, 2021 11:55 am

    Just when I think you can’t touch my heart again this week, you go and write this!

  18. jill - July 31, 2021 12:27 pm

    Ah, those ole songs that will forever hold us. Leaning, In the Garden, He Lives, oh my so many memories and so much so true even now. And your right, I just can’t do the dark rooms, strobe lights, the constant beat of a zombie like tune, jumping all over what words there are on the screen no one older than 30 can see. Give me that ole time religion. 🙂

  19. Nancy Powell - July 31, 2021 12:30 pm

    You made me cry too, Sean! God Bless Mother Mary, you and Jamie! Prayers! 🙏❤🙏

  20. Patricia DuBois - July 31, 2021 12:38 pm

    Thinking of you and your mother in law everyday. I hope you can feel the love we all send you.

  21. Kevin Bergen - July 31, 2021 12:55 pm

    I was 12, too. Able now to meet with the men. As a whole chapel full of me stood and rumbled out the already moving “The Spirit of God Like a Fire is Burning” with a tangible yet spiritual version of gusto, I was never to regard hymn singing the same.

  22. Christina - July 31, 2021 1:23 pm

    What a precious memory! I miss the hymns too.

  23. Nancy Crews - July 31, 2021 1:26 pm

    ❤your writing. I grew up in this type of rural church!
    Powerful singing!

  24. Wendy - July 31, 2021 1:28 pm

    Loved this story, Sean, and I dearly love all those old hymns, too!

  25. Molly Mitchell - July 31, 2021 1:36 pm

    If you grew up Nazarene, the end-of-the-service hymn was always either Just As I Am or Whiter Than Snow. But now, of course, I’ll be humming Leaning On the Everlasting Arms the rest of the day. 🙂♥️

  26. Jan - July 31, 2021 2:03 pm

    Praying for your family this day! Memories of yesterday give us His strength for today and great hope for all of our tomorrows.

  27. Emily Williams - July 31, 2021 2:13 pm

    As our mother lay in her hospice bed, my sister and I sang “Amazing Grace” for her. She had not been talking, but she started singing along with us. That is a precious memory that helped us through that time. Blessings to you all.

  28. Donna - July 31, 2021 2:53 pm

    This beautiful hymn was written in Hartselle, Alabama.

  29. Floyd Budd Dunson - July 31, 2021 3:12 pm

    A tarnish grey cardboard cover , World Wide Church Somgs and Gospel Hymns. A vanished pine floor, windows open so you hear every coward dog. White shirts and hats not caps ,hats, the only tie in the building on the preacher. An upright piano that was tuned before the war. Oscillating fans and SPECIAL songs. Scenes of my childhood.

  30. Bob Ross - July 31, 2021 3:17 pm

    “But in a tiny congregation with a median age of 75”, fully describes the Methodist Church I attended through college. In the later years the congregation had been reduced to at most 25 stalwarts, mostly women, all over 75. On the last Easter before the church closed permanently Ms. Willie Mae Upshaw who played the piano began playing Up From the Grave He Arose. Dead silence fell across the sanctuary. In frustration, Ms. Willie Mae, in that same stage voice your MIL uses, announced “If y’all aren’t going to sing, I’m not going to play!”, The small group mustered enough strength to do the first stanza. Your essays bring back so many memories of going up in the rural South and the kinder, gentler times we all shared.

  31. Tom - July 31, 2021 3:29 pm

    You just took me back 60-70 years. Grew in in little country church and these are the songs we sung. I still find myself singing these songs when I’m out working in garden or mowing the yard. It’s a shame, but rarely sing these song in church anymore. The younger generation haven’t a clue to what they are missing, neither do some of the younger ministers.

  32. Karen - July 31, 2021 3:42 pm

    Sean , u r something else!

  33. Helen De Prima - July 31, 2021 4:07 pm

    I still silently sing myself to sleep with those old hymns.

    • SW - October 20, 2021 2:21 am

      So do I!!!

  34. Jackie Clements - July 31, 2021 4:35 pm

    I understand. There are a number of those precious old hymns that instill melancholy in me and bring tears to my eyes. Nice story.

  35. Kate - July 31, 2021 4:41 pm

    I think there are many of us that would go to a church again if we could find one that sang hymns. Thank you for reminding us.

  36. Chasity Davis Ritter - July 31, 2021 4:42 pm

    I may have told this story before it’s possible in all the comments I’ve made the last 3 years but I love those old hymns so much too. My husband does heating and air work. I accompany him sometimes on big jobs and save him some steps getting tools or cleaning up with he’s done with a job. I entertain myself during down time playing with the kids or pets at a job site or reading. We had to do a job at an old country church one evening and this night while he was doing his part I stood up at the podium in front of the room with one of those hymnals and I sang every one of my old beloved hymns for about an hour. It took me down memory lane to my childhood in such a big way. Now I’m not sure if the bucket I tried to carry a tune in had many holes or not but the Bible says just to make a joyful noise into the Lord and by goodness that’s what I did that night. I hope HE smiled but I was trying. I guess it was easier too because I had the book and was just singing for myself. I love our worship team at church and they give all they have to God but yeah the old hymns will always be my favorite too.

  37. Jan - July 31, 2021 4:58 pm

    Elaine Wilson, you are lovely. Thank you for commenting. I am sure the grief is still with you but hopefully the wonderful blessings are still with you too.

  38. apric73 - July 31, 2021 5:22 pm

    My grandma’s name was Hazel. I loved hymn singin with her.

  39. Linda Moon - July 31, 2021 6:04 pm

    Hymns, I can hear them as everyone was singing them. “Great is Thy Faithfulness” is one of my favorites. But Iris Dement’s “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms” supersedes all other hymns for me. Don’t apologize for being so-called melodramatic…some things we’ll never forget deserve the “drama” of remembered experiences. The old song and the telling of Mother Mary’s sickbed made me cry just now. Give my love to your wife, Sean…from “Uma”, her mistaken special name for me.

  40. throughmyeyesusaD - July 31, 2021 6:37 pm

    Back in the ‘80’s we attended a Baptist church in Maryland (Gethsemane) and my very favorite hymn was “Jesus is knocking”, #183 in the hymnal (I think). It’s the one I “went forward” to and I would do anything to have the music and lyrics to that hymn! If this sounds familiar to anyone, or you happen to have a copy of the hymnal that contains it . . . I’d love to know!

    Sean, our joint prayers continue to rise up for your peace and for Mary’s comfort. Our hearts go out to your entire family.

  41. Kendal Hopkins - July 31, 2021 7:31 pm

    I’m usually a lurker here, but had to comment today. Raised a Methodist, for most of my life in small country congregations, there is NOTHING like the energy behind “Everlasying Atms” when we sing it together. It takes a few bars to get us fully revved, but by the final verse the rafters ring. Mansion Over the Hilltop does the same in my current church family.
    May the old hymns bring solace & a quiet joy🙏💚

  42. Terri - July 31, 2021 7:33 pm

    At my mother’s visitation, a special friend of mine asked me what he could do for me. I replied that he could sing at the graveside. He asked me which song, and I told him it was his choice. Well, his choice was Beulah Land. He asked if there would be an accompaniment. I said no. So at the graveside after the prayers, he began to sing in a strong and clear tenor. Sitting behind me were my mother’s sister and brother. Her sister had sung in many a gospel trio or quartet for most of her adult life, but she had not sung in years – she had dementia and just couldn’t seem to. I was brought to tears when she began to harmonize with my friend in a clear, strong voice. Her brother joined her. The memory of that amazing experience still brings me to tears. Sending you and Jamie prayers for comfort. Sending Miss Mary a prayer the angels are waiting to lead her to the everlasting arms of Jesus.

  43. Linda Dealy - July 31, 2021 7:45 pm

    I also grew up in a Southern Baptist church. Many Baptist churches have the screens and bands. My husband and I decided to attend a Presbyterian church where we get to sing all those songs you mentioned. Love all those songs.

  44. Wendy Vanosdell - July 31, 2021 7:46 pm

    My precious daughter in law sends me your writings. I’m caring for my grandmother, she has dementia, but she made it through a broken hip, breast cancer, and the Great Depression. Her father died when she was very young, she and all 5 of her sisters were shipped off to live with their grandparents that ran a dairy farm. She worked so hard coming up, then she married my Pawpaw who was in the Air Force and lived the military life. She loved it, she still beams when she sees a man in uniform. Phones were different back then, I have an Uncle Steve and a cousin Steve, 2 weeks apart in age. She and her sister Clyde were both expecting, and they both had boys, and they both named them Steve. How amazing ♥️♥️♥️ I love her dearly, and it brings me such joy, and unexpected pleasure, caring for her. She’s happily oblivious to the fact that she isn’t able to do for herself anymore, she still “works” in the yard, makes sure my kids mind ♥️ and helps in my kitchen. For now she still stays in her house, right next door to mine, Each meal we bring her is a surprise, she is always so happy that we brought her a plate, and thanks us every time. I wish she wouldn’t, but she is genuinely surprised, she doesn’t remember that every meal for years now has been brought to her. She doesn’t like to go anywhere, if she has to go to the Dr, she’ll go out to eat afterwards, she loves this, but won’t go anywhere else otherwise. She travels with us when we go on vacation, she’ll watch everything outside, for hours, we bring a little tablet so she can watch tv shows, nope, she only wants to see the passing cars and trees and yards and fences. Wish I could get into her mind, she knows so much of our past, our country’s past, but it’s all so normal to her, she doesn’t realize how vastly different the world is now, or is it, sometimes I wonder. Growing up I would see her one week out the year, we’d trek to Ga for our week at Grannys each year, and I’d get to sing in the kids choir at the tiny church she and PawPaw faithfully went to. He was a deacon ♥️
    Thank you so much for sharing your life with us. Often I’m in tears reading your thoughts, I know our days together are numbered, and seeing your heartache right now resonates with me, I know I’ll be there so very soon, and I don’t want to. So badly I don’t want to. Please never stop sharing.

  45. Suellen - July 31, 2021 8:19 pm

    My husband is a Lutheran Pastor so our hymnody is a little different. I haven’t heard of some of the songs mentioned. After my husband’s stroke 2 1/2 years ago I began to depend on devotions every night to make it through the night…and another day. I noticed that one of my devotion books had hymns in the back and sang a few. That calmed my brain and I slept better that night. So then I dug out my hymnal and singing hymns before I go to sleep has become a nightly ritual. Great is Thy Faithfulness is running through my mind night and day. I pray that I will have loving family and friends around me when the time comes to sing me into Heaven.

  46. Linda Holmes - July 31, 2021 8:23 pm

    Wonderful words, Sean. You always manage to bring up a memory. I had a similar experience at about the same age. My parents and I lived in Birmingham AL but most weekends you would find us in Blount Co, visiting my grandparents. One Sunday my uncle persuaded me to go to church with him and his family. Once there, when it came time to “sang,” the lady who normally played the piano was not there. Suddenly my uncle volunteered me to play since I had been taking lessons for a year or two. I protested but to no avail. Insert disaster! Either I played too slow or they sang too fast but I was hitting all the wrong keys. In the middle of the hymn, I could not get away from that piano fast enough. I was bawling and so embarrassed. I would have run to my grandparents house but it was a ways down the dirt road.

  47. Robert L Chiles - July 31, 2021 9:13 pm

    I was probably 12 before I figured out that it wasn’t “What a fellowship, what a Georgia pine, leaning on the everlasting arms. Still praying for you all.

    • Kathleen Guion - October 20, 2021 10:47 am

      Love it! Georgia pines!!

  48. Deanna - July 31, 2021 10:15 pm

    Love the old hymns. When my sister married the first time, the Anne Murray song “you needed me” was very popular. As it was sung, I sobbed, so much that I thought I was going to have to be escorted out of the area. I know that those songs will be with Mother Mary as she is taken to Heaven on the wings of angels, into the loving arms of Jesus

  49. Gail Johnston Guinn - July 31, 2021 10:27 pm

    You are “spot on” with this writing! Thank you for this! I’m 82 and been “a part of Church music all my life”! I love the old gyms! ❤️

  50. Marilyn Jordan - July 31, 2021 10:29 pm

    Always one of my very favorites. Get so tired of the new
    praise songs that repeat the same words over and over!!

    • Stacey Wallace - July 31, 2021 11:52 pm

      Me, too, Marilyn. My husband and I love the old hymns and stand there and count how many times the same verse is repeated in those new songs.

  51. Anne Haas - July 31, 2021 11:00 pm


  52. David S Doom - July 31, 2021 11:01 pm

    With my last name, DOOM, the hymn “All most Persuaded” was not my favorite because when they sang “Doom comes at last”, I always got an elbow in the ribs from whatever friend was sitting next to me. The song leader noticed this and decided between my last name and the thought of ending a service with “Almost but lost” was a lousy way to end a worship service. He never choose it again.

  53. Bill Harris - July 31, 2021 11:08 pm

    Thank you so very much Sean.

  54. Peggy ALEXANDER - July 31, 2021 11:16 pm

    Well it our Pentecostal Church sing 🎶 the new AND the OLD HYMNS in every service. We have wonderful “Song Service “ as we use to call it. I t is PRAISE SERVICE 🙌👏to our GOD. Oh the places you take us back to Sean😊🎶🎶🎹🎼🎤🎸🎻

  55. CHARALEEN WRIGHT - July 31, 2021 11:40 pm

  56. Janet Mackenzie - August 1, 2021 12:47 am

    I know what you mean. Good people all around.

  57. Jeff Kempe - August 1, 2021 12:50 am

    Thank you, Sean; bless you. I didn’t sing my first hymn until 1998 when, for the first time, I heard the Gospel preached from the heart. I joined the church, joined the choir and have sung in it since. A new choir director came in 1999 that shared the pastor’s passion for the cross, and the choir grew from 30 to over 100. Between them they built one of the strongest traditional worship ministries in the region. In the process I came to love the the hymns; I’ve never heard a praise song with the depth – spiritually, theologically or musically – that’s revealed in, say, “Precious Lord”. There’s a focus group narrative that insists if churches want to grow they need to adopt the fog machines, stage lighting, rock bands and PowerPoint screens in order to attract younger families. From experience: No. That doesn’t work. Teach the younger generation the hymns of the faith. That’s solid ground, built on a solid rock.

  58. Leesa - August 1, 2021 2:20 am

    I’ll Fly Away. In the Garden.

  59. Karen Snyder - August 1, 2021 2:29 am

    Oh, the hymns! I can’t begin to count all of the memories you have called out for me recently. How sweet for Mother Mary to be accompanied by them along the last portion of her earthly walk. Continuing prayers for you all. ❤️

  60. Kathy Coxwell - August 1, 2021 3:27 am

    I first heard that song the movie Night of the Hunter with Robert Mitchum as a killer. Jo Van Fleet sat rocking on her front porch with a shotgun across her lap just waiting for Mitchum’s character to appear. As she rocked, she sang. She sang Everlasting arms, and I’ve never forgotten the sound of her voice in the twilight somewhere in the swampy South. “Leaning, leaning…leaning on the everlasting arms.”
    We Presbyterians were too starchy to sing “Sunday School”songs in church. We left those to the Baptist’s and the Methodists. But I do love Everlasting Arms, and I ‘spect I’ll fall asleep tonight with that tune in my head.

  61. Daisy - August 2, 2021 12:21 pm

    Marilyn and Stacey, thank you for your comments. I thought I was the only one who hated hearing the same verse over and over. I too, have sometimes counted how many times we were singing the same verse. Sure wish there were less contemporary churches and more old fashion solid one. The newer generations will never know or understand the power of the old hymns. Thank you Sean for always knowing how to touch heart.

  62. Holley Camles - August 2, 2021 2:15 pm

    This column really spoke to me. I was also raised Baptist, and at the advanced age of 71, I still have a Baptist Hymnal though I am an Anglican now. I also still sing those old Baptist hymns, especially when I drive. It makes me feel very safe!

    My favorite hymn has always been one that few people remember. I can’t even recall the proper name, but I always called it “I Will Rise and Go To Jesus.” It has such a haunting, minor key melody and sounds so old fashioned. And, it makes me cry.

    The sad thing is that this hymn has been banished. It’s never played any more because the chorus ends with “in the arms of my dear Savior, oh, there are 10,000 charms.” The uninformed presume this sounds too “racy” for Jesus to be doing. They just don’t know that the word “charms” had an additional, different connotation than simply being attractive. Back then, a “charm” was like a “cure” – something that healed you. There were “charms” for many maladies. And Jesus had them all and cured all our ills! To keep us from singing this beautiful hymn because of misplaced propriety breaks my heart. I will continue to sing it in my car! Thanks, Sean. Great column.

  63. Michael Wenberg - August 2, 2021 7:17 pm

    Stop it, man. You’re making me cry, too.

    I cry when I hear or sing traditional Christmas carols. My wife and I now go to an Orthodox Christian church, but boy, do I sometimes miss those old hymns I grew up with. Here was one of my favorites:

  64. Anne M Robinson - August 3, 2021 6:40 pm

    Aw….I ove that old Methodist preacher. What a kindness he extended to you and later made you laugh out loud at your silly mistake. Those are the people I like to be around. No judgement, no glaring looks, just simple kindness. We need more of that in this world today.

  65. Phil Tew - August 3, 2021 7:09 pm

    A friend of mine sends me your columns and it’s the highlight of my day. This one in particular was so touching because singing in church has always been an emotional
    Experience for me. God bless your talent

  66. Cynthia Russell - August 4, 2021 5:05 pm

    Sean… My favorite Sinners to repent song is “Breathe On Me” hymn page 238 .. how any sinner can walk out the door without repenting is beyond me.. I sure couldn’t…. It is sung slowly & softly.. SO LOVE IT!!

  67. Diane T. Lipscomb - August 8, 2021 8:09 am

    My Mother’s father lived not far from them when she was a child, and she remembers her Daddy’s two favorite songs of faith being” When I Can Read My Title” and” Mansions in the Sky”. Are you familiar with either of these two hymns?Jerry has left us with a plethera of hymn books of all types, but they are not in any of them !
    Thanks so much.
    Diane T. Lipscomb

  68. Nancy Wilson Buckler - August 11, 2021 4:13 pm

    Thanks for this one, Sean!! Loved it. Our lives are very similar with music, singing for every church play, wedding, funeral.. I also can’t read music and only play guitar well enough to sing the songs I love. Hymns are my favorite too. I’ve been thinking of you all and saying prayers for Mother Mary’s homegoing. Keep hearing Angel Band <3 Loved this column and all of your writing… I missed this one til just now.

  69. Jules - October 20, 2021 1:23 pm

    I always think of the hauntingly beautiful scenes of the “new” True Grit when I hear “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms.” The world needs more hymn singing.

  70. MARJORIE S KINDIGER - October 21, 2021 3:14 am

    A friend who knows I love church hymns forwarded this whole thing to me! I can identify with the need to sing the OLD HYMNS!! There is theology, commitment, and praise! I’m Southern Baptist and have seen the transition to more contemporary music, which saddens me. Bring back the old hymns without all the repetition in the new ones!

  71. Mike Lindsey - October 21, 2021 5:31 am

    We have so much in common. I started playing piano in church at 9, and at 11 I was the church pianist for all services. The old country preacher would come and check me out of elementary school to play for funerals. I’ve lost count of the weddings and funerals I’ve done, across a 52 year span of being a church pianist / keyboardist. Recently, during the height of Covid, I did a Facebook Live session of “Hymns of the Old Church” on the grand piano. I was literally amazed at the number of people who viewed the live session and the video. Thousands. So many comments followed the same thread of “you took me back to my childhood” , as they expressed love for these timeless tunes. It made me happy to give them a “break” from the stress of a pandemic, if nothing more than an hour of drifting back to a much simpler time of worship.


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