Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Hymns

When I was 20 years old, I prayed a prayer and committed my life to Christ. I did so in an emotional worship experience on a retreat I attended with the Texas Tech Wesley Foundation. For some reason, the things I heard on that retreat just clicked with me, and though I had grown up in the church and had heard about Jesus countless times before, it finally made sense to me and I said "Yes" to Christ. It goes without saying that my life has never been the same.

Sadly, shortly after this experience, I became a bit of a worship snob. Somehow, I had in my mind a picture of what worship was supposed to look like. It was supposed to look like those worship experiences I had been experiencing at the time, which had led me to my making a commitment to Christ. I made very little room for other styles of worship. For me or for anyone else.

I have asked and received God's forgiveness for my overly critical, nose-turning, small-minded attitude towards worship. I probably lived in that attitude for about 3 years until I finally realized that worship was more than just music, more than just prayer, and more than just liturgy. Most importantly I finally "got" that worship is not about me at all, but only about God. (I know you must be thinking, "Seriously, Kelly? How could you have made worship about you at all??")

As far as worship services were concerned, I still had my preferences. I preferred a more modern style of worship service, with a band and guitars and free-flowing worship. Billy and I attended a church in Dallas when we lived there and attended their more modern worship service. It's what we liked and what we felt was more effective in reorienting our hearts towards God and reorienting our lives into an attitude of absolute worship of Him.

(The point of this post is not to debate the decades-old argument that exists in the church of traditional vs. contemporary vs. modern worship).

As a student at Asbury Seminary, I have had the opportunity to participate in worship experiences that stretch across the widest spectrum imaginable.

And recently, I have experienced a reawakening of my love for the hymns I grew up singing. I can't get enough of them. Their theology is rich. The words are often antiquated, but oh so rich and oh so powerful at drawing me into worship of my Creator. I never would have thought I would ever enter a season where I actually preferred singing hymns. But here I am. Don't get me wrong. I still love a guitar and I love Chris Tomlin and the other modern greats who, through their music and the theology they sing, are getting folks excited about worship. But for me, today, I'll take a good old hymn.

I could create a list that is miles long of my favorite hymns. I have old favorites and new favorites. What are your favorites?

I'll share with you the lyrics of one we sing a lot here at Asbury. It gets my heart pumping every time and tears never cease to stream down my face.


And Can It Be?

Words by Charles Wesley, 1738

And can it be that I should gain
An interest in the Savior’s blood?
Died He for me, who caused His pain—
For me, who Him to death pursued?
Amazing love! How can it be,
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?
Amazing love! How can it be,
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?

He left His Father’s throne above
So free, so infinite His grace—
Emptied Himself of all but love,
And bled for Adam’s helpless race:
’Tis mercy all, immense and free,
For O my God, it found out me!
’Tis mercy all, immense and free,
For O my God, it found out me!

Long my imprisoned spirit lay,
Fast bound in sin and nature’s night;
Thine eye diffused a quickening ray—
I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.

No condemnation now I dread;
Jesus, and all in Him, is mine;
Alive in Him, my living Head,
And clothed in righteousness divine,
Bold I approach th’eternal throne,
And claim the crown, through Christ my own.
Bold I approach th’eternal throne,
And claim the crown, through Christ my own.

5 comments:

jason said...

I LOVE LOVE LOVE "And Can it Be" I also love Asbury's other fight song "Here I Am, Lord." Chill-bump-alicious.

I also like to make the magic happen with O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing. My absolute rim-rocking favorite is Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing. Let they goodness, like a fetter, bind my wandering heart to thee.

Oh yes.

Special shout out to my boy, Dr. David Bauer and Bill Gould for imbuing some old school songs with Holy-Spirit power.

Neener said...

This part of Come Thou Fount hits home every time:

O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I'm constrained to be!
Let that grace now like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here's my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.

And I'm pretty sure Amazing Grace is a given.

Sara said...

that's awesome Kelly...i had the same kind of experience at my Wesley here in Louisiana, and got out of the "hymn phase" as well...when i got to Asbury though, and realized how i could worship God the same way singing hymns from the top of my lungs, i found a new love for them as well :) yay for old hymns!!!

Cary Efurd said...

I was the opposite. I never thought I would like contemporary worship. I thought guitars in church and new modern music was an insult to the 300 plus year old hymns and the tradition style of worship with the pipe organ and choir. Now I find my self playing guitar in a band in a contemporary service. Great how God have given us more than one way to worship Him, right? I prefer the contemporary style now but I'll take a few verses of "When We All Get To Heaven" from the Crossroads hymnal any day.

Laurie J. said...

This is a song that I learned as a child that has new meaning for me through each trial I encounter.

He giveth more grace
when the burdens grow greater
He sendeth more strength
E'er the labors increase
To added affliction He addeth His mercy
To multiplied trials, His multiplied peace

(chorus)
His love has no limit
His grace has no measure
His power has no boundary known unto men
For out of His infinite riches in Jesus
He giveth, and giveth and giveth again

When we have exhausted our store of endurance
when our strength has failed
E'er the day is half done
When we reach the end of our hoarded resources
Our Father's full giving has only begun

(repeat chorus)

Can't tell you how I have wept with joy and relief at those words in dark hours!
lj