One of my favorite writers, Elizabeth Skoglund, penned the following article concerning the death of hymns in our churches. I concur with what she has written.
“[W]e made the strategic decision to stop singing hymns in our seeker services,” said Rick Warren in his Purpose Driven Church. Other churches have so-called blended services with choruses and a hymn or two. Most use screens rather than hymn books.
A strong issue in the so-called Emergent Church philosophy seems to be the elimination of hymn books and the substitution of rock music and repetitive chants. What a loss to upcoming generations of children! What a loss to those of us who will always cherish hymns, at least in our private worship.
In referring to old hymns, like “Rock of Ages” and “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God,” and their use in providing comfort, David Jeremiah wrote that these songs were “comfort music for weak-kneed saints.” Concludes Jeremiah: “Unfortunately, we often encourage comfort zones in the church.” (Life Wide Open, pp. 164-165) Comfort in the church? Unbiblical? Not needed? Such a viewpoint contradicts large portions of the Scripture. Just from a human point of view, is he implying that comfort is not needed? Has he never lived on Planet Earth, you might ask.
Sometimes it is indeed a little child that leads us. Pulling out a hymn from the long past hymn writer P.P. Bliss, my eleven-year-old granddaughter handed me that hymn this morning, adding “Why don’t you put this on your Web site.” I was blessed, and so here it is.
Let the Lower Lights Be Burning
Brightly beams our Father’s mercy
From His lighthouse ever more,
But to us He gives the keeping
Of the lights along the shore.
Dark the night of sin has settled,
Loud the angry billows roar
Eager eyes are watching, longing,
For the lights along the shore.
Trim your feeble lamp, my brother,
Some poor sailor tempest-tossed,
Trying now to make the harbor,
In the darkness may be lost.
Let the lower lights be burning!
Send a gleam across the wave
Some poor fainting, struggling seaman
You may rescue, you may save.
Music is powerful. It can inspire evil as well as goodness. It can depress as well as uplift. One of my favorite hymns is “Jesus I Am Resting, Resting.” It was also Hudson Taylor’s favorite as, over a century ago, he opened up the interior of China for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Broken hearted after the loss of his wife and small daughter, he would often play this hymn on a small organ in the middle of the night. Did he need comfort? Yes! And he found it through a hymn.
Jesus! I am resting, resting
In the joy of what Thou art;
I am finding out the greatness
Of Thy loving heart.
Thou hast bid me gaze upon Thee,
And Thy beauty fills my soul,
For, by Thy transforming power,
Thou hast made me whole.
Oh, how great Thy loving kindness,
Vaster, broader than the sea!
Oh, how marvelous Thy goodness,
Lavished all on me!
Yes, I rest in Thee, Beloved,
Know what wealth of grace is Thine,
Know Thy certainty of promise,
And have made it mine.
Simply trusting Thee, Lord Jesus,
I behold Thee as Thou art,
And Thy love so pure, so changeless,
Satisfies my heart;
Satisfies its deepest longings,
Meets, supplies its ev’ry need,
Compasseth me round with blessings:
Thine is love indeed!
Ever lift Thy face upon me,
As I work and wait for Thee;
Resting ’neath Thy smile, Lord Jesus,
Earth’s dark shadows flee.
Brightness of my Father’s glory,
Sunshine of my Father’s face,
Keep me ever trusting, resting,
Fill me with Thy grace.
NOTE: For more by and about Elizabeth Skoglund please click on the link on the left side of the Pilgrim Scribblings site.