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  • Writer's pictureCrystal


Growing up in the Baptist church, I loved going thru the Hymnal. Mainly because the sermon did not interest me. I liked reading the words, not really understanding their meaning.

My Mother sang Alto, her Father sang Tenor, and his Mother also sang Alto. One of our former Minister or Music, lived down the street from my grandparents when they served our church. When I was in middle school he was one of the choir directors at Music Camp. I had to audition to him. He was no longer at our church and had no idea what I sang. We chatted at bit, told him about band and me picking up the clarinet. When I finished singing, he told me that it made sense that I played clarinet and sang Alto. The two go hand in hand, he also knew my Mother's voice. He told me I had a beautiful alto voice, like my Mother. (When she and I sang in church, I always felt sorry for the row in front of us. We were not quiet singers.)

I fell in love with choir. To hear all the parts in a piece was just delightful to me. I loved classical music, including Opera. I marched (debatable about marching) in band, but that style of music was not my love. I loved to watch other bands perform, but the marching music itself just failed to meet my expectations. In the Baptist Church I grew up in, our Minister of Music LOVED to dig up the obscure hymn. No one else knew the words, but him. It taught me how to sight read.

My appreciation for hymns came when the church stopped singing them. We became modern, with a band and large screens with just the words shown on them. We have a paise team instead of a choir. All seemed fine, even exciting, until one day we sang an old hymn that was reinvented. It was a jolt to my system. More hymns have been changed to update them. Some we only sing parts of, as if the rest of it no longer matters. There are some hymns that are sacred as they were written, so changing one note becomes almost a distraction, just wrong.

Ephesians 4:21-24 says "assuming that you were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness." To set aside our old self and put on the new. This verse does not pertain to the old hymns; however, if we are set in our old ways of worship, singing the same hymns and not changing, then how will anyone know you have been made new?

Sometimes we need a revival within us. That revival can be triggered by an old hymn sang in the old tradition. But sometimes we need that jolt to wake up and be moved.

Psalm 51:7-9 "Purify me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Make me to hear joy and gladness. Let the bones which you have broken rejoice. Hide your face from my sins and blot our all my iniquities."

Whiter Than Snow, the old hymn comes from these verses. James L. Nicholson wrote the hymn and it appeared in Joyful Songs Number 4 in 1872. This hymn creates a vision of being washed in the blood of Christ to be made whole and whiter than snow--pristine, blindingly white, pure.

One of my favorite verses begs to be said daily, creating a revival in my soul. Psalm 51:10 "Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me." Sometimes we become attached with old things. I have pieces of furniture and jewelry that I love because they are hand-me-downs and hold special meaning to me. Old Hymns are that way too. When I am missing my family, I pull out the Old Hymns. But they are sung in a new way. Still the old hymn, but gone is the slow organ playing. Now sung in beautiful harmony without a band, piano or organ. Just a group, singing. There are times I swear I can hear two Altos and a Tenor just behind me and that makes my heart smile.

I borrowed a picture of the Baptist Hymnal

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