Dear beloved community,
“Ok everyone, call out your favorites!”
“425! I always loved that second verse, which speaks to me in all the storms of life.”
Fear not, I am with thee, O be not dismayed, for I am thy God, and will still give thee aid; I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand, upheld by my righteous omnipotent hand.
“If my dad was here, he’d insist we do 627 – it’s his favorite.”
O victory in Jesus, my Savior, forever. He sought me and bought me with His redeeming blood; he loved me ere I knew Him, and all my love is due Him; he plunged me to victory, beneath the cleansing flood.
“You know, my grandmother would pinch us grandkids when we got loud in church, but she insisted we learn all these hymns. This is one of them.”
‘Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus, just to take Him at His word; just to rest upon His promise, just to know, ‘Thus saith the Lord!’ Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him! How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er! Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus! O for grace to trust Him more!
“In this hymn, Thomas Dorsey, the hymn-writer, had lost his wife and infant in childbirth. From that profoundly devastating experience he wrote these words – “
Precious Lord, take my hand, lead me on, help me stand. I am tired, I am weak, I am worn; through the storm, through the night, lead me on to the light – take my hand, precious Lord, lead me home.
“My whole life long, I have resonated with this image of being in the garden with Jesus and hearing birdsong there.”
He speaks, and the sound of His voice is so sweet the birds hush their singing; and the melody that He gave to me within my heart is ringing. And He walks with me, and He talks with me, and He tells me I am his own, and the joy we share as we tarry there, none other has ever known.
Under the picnic shelter, our song mingled with breeze and warmth, the gathered community lifting their voices in familiar tunes and guiding words. These were earned favorites. Well-worn picks. Faithful companions, these hymns, over decades of joy and suffering, grief and gratitude. Morning by morning, new mercies I see. For these faithful friends, the hymns we sang were surely the lift of many a days, the accompaniment of life itself. “The practice of singing our lives to God,” as professor Don Saliers once said, “is a practice that expresses our deepest yearning and dearest joy.” Or, as Mary Nell put it, “is there any better medicine than sharing a meal and singing hymns outside on a day like today?” Surely not. Strength for today, and bright hope for tomorrow!
My life flows on in endless song, above earth’s lamentation.
I catch the sweet, though far-off hymn that hails a new creation.
No storm can shake my inmost calm while to that Rock I’m clinging.
Since love is Lord of heaven and earth, how can I keep from singing?
Indeed, how can we keep from singing?
Together in God’s work of Love,