Published May 19, 2009

Paul's Epistle...
"Favorite Hymns"

Two weeks ago in this column I asked for personal stories about favorite old hymns. It was a followup to our recent all-hymns broadcast. We received many, many responses. Here are a few representative ones, edited for space:

"My favorite hymn is (and always will be) ‘Great Is Thy Faithfulness.' Just writing this brings tears to my eyes again. I will never forget shortly after I was gloriously saved going to a very early morning service and hearing a preacher [preach] on that song and the verses it was based upon, Lamentations 3:23. I have often reread the entire passage (verses 19-24) and sung the old hymn over and over. The wonder of it all that He would be faithful to me. And, oh He has been so faithful to me, over and over..." – Steve C.

"I think my favorite hymn is ‘The Old Rugged Cross.' I can still hear my mother sing that song in church in her rich alto voice while standing beside her. Without Jesus going on that cross willingly, there would be no hope for me to ever reach Heaven. What He suffered on that cross, I can only imagine. And to think He did it to save a sinner like me!" – Nancy K.

"Paul, my favorite hymn is ‘It Is Well With My Soul.' It tells me that no matter what I go through, I can trust in the Lord to see me through. Anything I have gone through in my life can't come close to what Horatio Spafford went through before he wrote this hymn. He lost almost everything in the great Chicago fire, then lost all four of his children when the ship they were on sank. And yet, he could still say, ‘When peace like a river attendeth my way / When sorrows like sea billows roll / Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say / It is well, it is well with my soul.'" – Howard S.

"My favorite song when I was a young teenager was ‘Saved, Saved!' For some reason I really liked the tune of that song, but the end of the chorus said it all for me: ‘I'm saved, saved, saved!'" – Michael M.

"My favorite hymn is ‘And Can It Be.' As a teenager, struggling with many emotions, pride, selfishness, feeling of bondages, this hymn became very meaningful. We were attending our second conference at Bethany Fellowship church in Bloomington, Minnesota. The sense of the presence and holiness of God was very strong, so much so that I felt guilt as we drove onto the grounds of the campus... I had been a ‘good' girl in most ways, but still I sensed the sin in my inner life. The teaching from Pastor Ernst Dahle on Romans 6 was revelation to me – the Word gives life. As I made Gal. 2:20 my own and received that truth into my heart I sensed a profound change. That following night at conference, as we stood and sang that beloved hymn, ‘And can it be, that I should gain / an interest in my Savior's blood / died He for me, who caused Him pain...' and then we came to the third verses, ‘my chains fell off, my heart was free, I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.' I literally felt like chains fell off. It was the most freeing sensation I have ever experienced. Now, some 50 years later, I still get choked up when I sing that hymn and experience the deep reality of that grand old hymn. The words resound to the depth of my being..." – Nancy D.

"My favorite hymn is ‘Farther Along.' I love this song because, as it says, when I go through a trial, I know that farther along I will understand why." – Shirley F.

"My favorite is ‘In The Garden.' It was first sung to me by my great-grandmother at the age of between six and eight. I love the song and it reminds me that a daily walk with God is possible even when you can't seem to talk to others. God is always there and listens to us. God has always been a close friend to me even when I forget to talk and listen to Him, He waits for me to talk with Him. I can go into my backyard and read my Bible or talk to God and can almost hear Him returning my talk with the breeze and singing of the birds. He has a way of making everything better if we will only turn to Him." – Margaret G.

"My favorite [hymn] us ‘Tell me the old, old story.' And I happen to have a favorite verse in it, too. The last one. It goes like this: ‘Tell me the old, old Story / When you have cause to fear / That this world's empty glory / Is costing me too dear. / Yes! And when that world's Glory / Is breaking on my soul / Tell me that same old Story / Christ Jesus makes thee whole.' How could something so profound not speak to us in our world today? How often does this world's empty glory cost us too dear? I have sung that song over my dishwasher with tears streaming down my cheeks as I counted the cost of yet another thing that had put its roots down into my heart and needed weeding out. I have sung it for my kids as I realize that they are facing a series of life choices that seem so good but could go so bad. I have mulled over it in my heart through the days that seem to be snatching away the hearts and minds and souls of people I love. The Old, Old Story is ever new in my heart, and I pray that I will remember the warning in this song until my dying day." – Mary Ann Y.

"My favorite hymn is ‘How Great Thou Art.' What a wonderful hymn. We sing about all His greatness, beauty and splendor. How powerful He is yet so loving and kind. His power shows in the storms and His meekness and softness of a tiny bird singing after the storm. The hymn tells of the God who created all this beauty for us to live in and gave up His son so we may continue to live in this beauty and splendor for eternity and all the time from earth to heaven we continue to praise and worship in awe of all His greatness. This hymn brings tears to my eyes whenever I sing it. He is so wonderful and had to sacrifice His only Son so I may be forgiven..." – Pat

Amen!

We have many more such responses, and perhaps we'll be able to share more of them sometime. Thanks to everyone for sharing the impact of these powerful old hymns on our lives.

- Paul

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