Friday, August 26, 2011

Hymns I Used to Like

There are hymns that I was never especially fond of. That's probably not unusual. What startles me is when I realize something used to be a favorite and now it's emphatically not. For instance, we haven't sung "Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus" or "Onward, Christian Soldiers" in decades, and that's fine with me. I was quite fond of "Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise" about 20 years ago and memorized the whole thing, but I was quite relieved seven years ago to see that it wasn't slotted for the new hymnal.

Then there are others where one line troubles me. Most of the hymn is good, but one or two lines make me uncomfortable. For instance, compare the second stanzas of "Built on the Rock the Church Doth Stand" (LSB 465) and "Christ Is Made the Sure Foundation" (LSB 909). One says that God does not dwell in our church buildings, the other says He does. Another example is "We Praise You and Acknowledge You" (LSB 941) where it says "You opened heaven's kingdom to all who would believe." That can be understood rightly, but it's also too easy to understand it Calvinistically.

And then there are hymns that I liked very much when I was little (probably due mostly to the melody), and then didn't like, and now am back to liking again. "Lord of Glory, You Have Bought Us" used to have a stanza warning us that God would turn His love away from us if we didn't give alms and alleviate the suffering of the poor (TLH 442:4). Once I figured out what those words were saying, I grew to hate the whole hymn. When LSB was published, that stanza had disappeared, and the emphasis is more balanced between what Jesus has done to save us and how our charity flows from His goodness to us. And now I have grown to like the hymn again.

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