Testimonies from Ages Past

Do you ever read hymns? I have a book of hymns that also includes stories about the authors or the inspiration behind each song. I love the rich theology found in the lyrics. I love that they are the written testimonies of believers from ages past, often giving witness to God's faithfulness, trustworthiness, sustaining grace, and guidance. How can we not treasure such a gift?

While reading an article by John Piper lately, I came across this quote by William Law that expresses the merit of song for the believer:

"Just as singing is a natural effect of joy in the heart so it has also a natural power of rendering the heart joyful . . . There is nothing that so clears a way for your prayers, nothing that so disperses dullness of heart, nothing that so purifies the soul from poor and little passions, nothing that so opens heaven, or carries your heart so near it, as these songs of praise.

They create a sense and delight in God, they awaken holy desires, they teach you how to ask, and they prevail with God to give. They kindle a holy flame, they turn your heart into an altar, your prayers into incense, and carry them as a sweet-smelling savor to the throne of grace."

Wow! I wish I knew more hymns by heart than the ones I can count on one hand. If you haven't done so in the past, I'd encourage you to crack open a hymnal or search different sites on the Internet and do some reading, singing, or memorizing of your own. I'm sure there are lots of sites out there - a couple that I came across just doing a quick search include Hymn History and Cyber Hymnal. (You can listen to the melodies at Cyber Hymnal so you know how it's sung.) Sometimes as part of my devotions or before bed I pick a hymn I don't know and just sing it to my own made-up tune. Try it - it's a great way to settle your heart in worship towards God.

What are some of your favorite hymns?


Penn Tomassetti said...

Me and Cyber Hymnal go waaayyy back (seriously, like 6 years). I love the hymn "Amazing Grace", because I know how to sing it. There are other hymns I love, but I cannot remember them well enough to even say what they are called :P

I really should do more memorizing, like you mentioned. Thanks for the reminder.

Penn Tomassetti said...

the one that says, "I pour contempt on all my pride". (Can't remember the name).

Stephanie said...

That hymn is one of the few that I know! ("When I Survey the Wondrous Cross") I like this verse:

Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
Save in the death of Christ my God!
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to His blood.

Phylicia said...

HI Stephanie!

I so agree! We have a book called "Then Sings My Soul" with hymns and their history. My dad used to use it on Sundays when we did home church. Penn, I think that song you are thinking of is "The Wondrous Cross":

"When I survey the wondrous cross/On which the Prince of glory died/My richest gains I count as loss/And pour contempt on all my pride"

My favorites are 'Tis so Sweet to Trust in Jesus' and 'Sweet Hour of Prayer'. Thanks for this Steph!

ladyakofa said...
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ladyakofa said...

Hi Stephanie,

I find it difficult to say which hymns are my favorite because I listen to them and sing them almost everyday. But here are a few that come to mind:

Great is Thy Faithfulness
Oh God our Help in Ages Past
How Great Thou Art
Be Thou My Vision
It is Well with my Soul
To God be the Glory

I love them because of the rich words... they set the tone for meditating on God and for sweet fellowship with God.

I've been visiting Cyber Hymnal too. :)

By the way, have you heard of Hymns 4 Worship DVDs from Integrity Music? Google this and you might want to order them for private worship time. I highly recommend them.

Stephanie said...

Thanks for your comments, ladies!

Akofa, I love the song "Be Thou My Vision". And I will definitely check out those DVD's. Thanks for the recommendation!

Trinity Mommy said...

Hello, I am so pleased to have found your lovely blog! Would you mind sharing the title of the book that you have with the stories about the authors? I am very interested in getting my hands on such a book! Thanks so much!