by REY LAMBATIN, Choir Director
Hymns have a way of bringing people together. We feel somehow connected every time we sing a hymn as a congregation. Our voices become one and we take part in becoming one body. And being a choir director, I especially love it when some voices break out into singing harmonies. It’s like the whole congregation gets transformed into one big choir. It just makes the experience a little bit more special for me.
When we speak of hymns, the usual things that come to our minds are the famous traditional ones we often sing in church: Amazing Grace, Great Is Thy Faithfulness, How Great Thou Art, Blessed Assurance. Derived from the Greek word “hymnos,” a hymn, by definition, is a type of song, usually religious, specifically written for the purpose of adoration or prayer, and typically addressed to God, a prominent figure or personification. With this definition, even the contemporary praise and worship songs fall under the category of hymns. And being a member of the Praise Team in my former churches, I’ve had my share of singing and falling in love with the newer hymns: Shout to the Lord, The Power of Your Love, Open the Eyes of My Heart.
But I have to say, the hymn that sits right at the top of my favorites is the more traditional “Be Thou My Vision.” Based on an old Middle Irish poem, it is sung to the melody noted as “Slane,” an Irish folk tune. Although the lyrics are very meaningful and poetic, the real draw to me is its melody in its ¾ time. The rhythm almost creates a sway that reminds me of a lullaby that brings a feeling of security and comfort. It starts low and comfortable, slowly building to the higher range, peaking to the highest with the running notes, then bringing you back down, and ending it repeating the same last note three times, giving emphasis to the words – Thy presence my light; and I with Thee one; my treasure thou art; O Ruler of all. Oftentimes, I find myself humming its simple and memorable melody, and it almost always transports and connects me back to our church singing together. It gives me a bit of security and comfort going through our current situation. Not knowing for sure how long we’ll continue to do virtual worships, I hope that singing our favorite hymns will help us feel more connected. Just keep singing.
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Christ the Good Shepherd
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