Ok, ok… before making people mad for calling the hymnal a “crazy church book” I need to make a disclaimer. I grew up Baptist… and I still are one. (Inserted intentional grammatical error). Not just “Baptist,” but Southern Baptist. Yes, I’m an conservative evangelical Christian that believes in the authority of Scripture and supports one of the largest global Christian mission efforts there is. So you can call me crazy if you want… (Crazy amazing…maybe).
I even grew up deep fat fried Southern Baptist. I grew up believing that casseroles and Crisco ™ was just as much a part of church as choir robes and communion (aka The Lord’s Supper). My grandfather was a deacon, my grandmother was a pianist/organist, and my dad was once part of a gospel quartet called, the Christianaires. So pretty much I grew up in the pews and in every Baptist church pew was this ever so common, crazy little church book called, The Baptist Hymnal.
They are even located in the church where I serve at today. (Confession: I was the one that removed all the graffiti covered hymn books). But the hymn book has been going through many changes over the last 5 1/2 decades. Some songs once written in the original 1956 edition have been removed due to lack of use and others have been added due to their familiarity and frequent use. This is seen in the 2008 version quite often. One of the most humorous of songs was fit to the 1970’s era from which it spawned and was place in the 1975 edition and removed in the 1991 edition. It is #20 God of Earth & Outer Space. (Not Commentating on this 1975 song…look it up on the Google Box).
Some would ask “why am I writing on this?” Well, not everyone is a hymn guy (Insert Political Correction –> hymn person). And just because you may like hymns, does not mean that you are out of touch with the modern or with technology (or even that you should be out of touch…please don’t). You can appreciate both. I do.
I like both hymns and “praise choruses” (not sure they are called this anymore). And there is good in the songs of old that teach us and move us to worship God. There is also something good about new songs. Believe it or not, many of the hymns…were once “new and modern songs.” Which I am glad they were written in all their once newness because we have found valuable treasure in their praise to God. This is also why I am glad for the new songs still being written so that the praise of God may inhabit His people.
The Scriptures from the Psalmist (also hymn & chorus writers) put it this way…
1 Oh sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth!
- It Is Well With My Soul by Horatio Spafford
- Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing by Robert Robinson
- Amazing Grace by John Newton
- How Great Though Art by Carl Gustav Boberg (translated by Stuart K. Hine)
- Jesus Paid It All by John T. Grape
- Blessed Assurance by Fanny J. Crosby
- Be Thou My Vision by Dallan Forgaill
- Brethren We Have Met To Worship by George Atkins
- When I Survey The Wondrous Cross by Isaac Watts
- Because He Lives by Bill Gaither