In 2013 and 2014, I ran a series of posts here highlighting favorite, preferably old, hymns. It’s now been three and a half years since I last posted anything in this series, but if anything the call for a focus on the truly “great old hymns” is greater than ever:
- In the church I attend, over the last few years the singing of hymns has dwindled from what seemed a token hymn every Sunday, or occasionally two, to one every month or so.
- At the same time, the proportion of hymns sung as such to hymns “medleyed” with a more-or-less-contemporary chorus has also dropped, and these medleys have increasingly been the contemporary chorus with a verse of a hymn inserted in the middle rather than the other way around.
- Finally, while in my church the “hymns” chosen have often been in fact 20th- or late-19th-century “gospel” choruses rather than anything I would call unarguably a hymn for many years now, a “hymn” now seems to be hardly ever anything older than 1875 or so.
In the coming months, I plan to resume my prior practice of bringing what I consider “good old hymns”—“good,” weighty, not inane; “old,” not just “older than I am”; “hymns,” not mere choruses (good as some of those are)—to my readers’ attention. I’ll provide the full text of each hymn, as I know it but with any extra verses I can find, and write a little bit about why I like the hymn or think it’s important. And in some cases a little about the history or “story” of the hymn.
I have a list of about a half-dozen hymns I plan to cover next year, but if there’s one you’d like to see me include (or to make sure I’m aware of), feel free to write a comment saying so.