let’s talk music for a minute. what i mean when i say music is the combination of lyrics and melodies, harmonies and beats played by instruments, not whatever you were thinking. that’s exactly what you were thinking? oh. at least were on the same page cause sometimes that is a difficult concept for people to grasp. caucasian males have special trouble with the beat part in particular, terrible trouble. anyways, since we’re past that, lets imagine a song with the most beautiful melody you have ever heard. so beautiful you don’t know whether you want to hug the person you’re next to or punch them in the face because you’ve just realized your life up until then has been a complete lie. But this melodic offering is accompanied by the most dreadful lyrics that fool you into thinking ke$ha and lady gaga actually wrote shakespearean sonnets. or, conversely, thoughtful lyrical musings that make your heart implode, delivered amidst sounds that would make you wish you born in outer space where sound is not possible (that’s science, google it). both of these cases are not ideal, to say the least. there has to be a balance between lyrics and instrumentals, a give and take.
let’s talk my evident weirdness. lately you may have caught me doing this motion where i place my fist on my chest and then slowly move it away from my body, expanding my fingers as i attempt to replicate the sound a bomb would make. this is my heart exploding. what i am trying to illustrate in these scenarios is that something is happening in my current situation that provokes overwhelming feeling in me that my heart cannot handle, thus, causing my heart to explode. this typically happens when i observe the absolutely unbearable cuteness of an infant (or most newborn mammals) or when i experience some mind boggling truth. it is more often than not the former that gets me, but for our purposes today, the latter will be more appropriate. throughout the remainder of this post you will see this: *heart explosion*, it will be used for dramatic effect. i fully expect reader participation including hand motion and sound.
*heart explosion*… that was just for practice
let’s talk hymns. when i think of hymns i flashback to me as a kid being dragged out of my bed on sunday mornings to sit in an uncomfortable church pew, shake a few hands of my holy compadres in an exchange know as deuces for Jesus (aka peace of Christ), and follow along with the delightful exuberance of the organ as we sing songs whose sole purpose, i can only assume, is to torture anyone that doesn’t have predominately grey hair. this is probably why when i began to follow Christ and actually wanted to go to church i didn’t rush to this type of church. i was drawn to a church without an organ, a pastor that didn’t wear his robes from potions class and more butt-friendly seating.
i have always found music particularly enjoyable, i tend to connect and latch onto songs and because of their meaning or how they make me feel. i find silence quite uncomfortable in most cases so i almost have something playing at least softly. so, naturally, when i showed up to a more contemporary church i fell in love with the music they were playing. music by artists like hillsong united, chris tomlin and kristian stanfill. i didn’t even know this music existed before i showed up to this church for the first time. the way i encountered that kind of worship was completely new to me and i loved it, it was completely contradictory to anything i had ever experienced.
now going back to our first conversation. i were to evaluate contemporary worship music (which i’m definitely about to) i would say that, typically, it is big dog, a st. bernard with instrumentals and more of a shitzu with lyrics profoundness. i mean i just don’t think there’s any artistic expansion happening with the words “our God is greater, our God is stronger.” and i am not saying this in an effort to put down this music because i do love contemporary worship music and there is definitely a beauty in proclaiming the simple truths like our how our God is great and strong. and of course this is a generalization, there is a multitude of contemporary worship songs that have both terrific lyrics and instrumentals (i mean oceans might actually be the most beautiful song ever created). i am simply saying that this music leans to the side of invoking emotion through the instrumentals, the bridge, the climax of songs.
on the other hand, as i began to look up some of the songs we sang during church i discovered that many of them are modern adaptations of old hymns like Jesus paid it all by kristian stanfill and be thou my vision by ascend the hill. in any case, as time progressed and i began to experience worship in different churches, or more intimate settings where a ten person band wasn’t quite as appropriate, more and more of the songs i was singing, and actually enjoying singing, were hymns. this all over the course of years and looking back i think i can see how hymns started to create a warm little burrow in my heart next to Chick-fil-a breakfast and not having morning classes. in breaking free from my thoughts of a traditional church i fled from anything… old, basically. there’s definitely a bit of a (large) gap between an old-school traditional church and a contemporary hand-raising church, but one is not worse than the other, just two kinds of worship (worship including, but not limiting to, the music).
if i were to evaluate hymns (which i’m definitely about to) i would say that, typically, they are a power, a United States with lyrical poignancy and more of a France when it comes to guitar and drum solos. i mean i just can’t picture some 18th or 19th century dude shredding on a guitar back in the day plugged into amps absolutely destroying is patriot brother’s ear drums. my guess is that this is probably because they hadn’t discovered electricity but whatever the reason it forced them to put all their effort into the pen, or quill or whatever. as i’ve started to find more and more hymns that i like i’ve seen that they have lyrics that are remarkable. before i give y’all examples of some of my favorites i’m gonna leave y’all with this…
contemporary worship music is awesome, no one loves getting #turnt4Jesus with a band and bawling their eyes out with every other person in the room more than this guy. but hymns are also awesome, no one loves sitting in someone’s living room with some dude with guitar singing with a few people quietely sobbing by himself more than this guy. and even though instrumentals may be the focus in one and words in the other, unlike capital letters in this post, there is nothing missing from either of these experiences (and yes, i neglected to use capital letters just for the sake of this joke (less a few for Jesus, God, .etc (cuz i’m a legalist(#Jesusjokes(empty())))). God is glorified in both and He finds joy in both. and i definitely like to mix it up a bit in my own life and you can totally reject this advice i’m about to give – which would probably be wiser anyways – but i would say give hymns a chance because there are some unimaginably remarkable and beautiful lines to be found. get ready for the heart explosions…
Jesus, i my cross have taken – the enfield hymn sessions
think what Spirit dwells within in thee / think what Father’s smiles is thine / think that Jesus died to win thee *heart explosion* / child of heaven canst thou repine / … haste thee on from grace to glory / armed by faith and winged by prayer / heaven’s eternal days before thee / God’s own hand shall guide me there *heart explosion*
dayspring (Christ, whose glory fills the skies)
visit then this soul of mine / pierce the gloom of sin and grief / fill me, radiancy divine / scatter all my unbelief *heart explosion*
before the throne of God above – shane and shane
my name is graven on His hand *heart explosion* / my name is written on His heart *heart explosion* / i know that while in heaven He stands / no tongue can bid me thence depart
abide with my – indelible grace
i fear no woe, with Thee at hand to bless / ills have no weight, tears lose their bitterness / where is thy sting death? where grave thy victory? *heart explosion* / i triumph still, abide with me… in life in death, Lord, abide with me *heart explosion*
the former – infinitely adorable baby
*heart explosion* *heart explosion* *heart explosion* *heart explosion* *heart explosion*
dey sum oldies but goodies…