My Favorite Hymns
I have some favorite songs. Honestly, I like almost everything we sing as a congregation at First Baptist but I place high value on songs that teach us about the Christian life, highlight true things about the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and that make us hungry for a deeper relationship with Christ. That’s the stuff I like to sing and it’s the way I try to evaluate the songs we use together. But I do have some favorites, and here are just some of my special favorites that are also in the Celebration Hymnal we use.
Be Thou My Vision, 562 – This is a powerful song of devotion in which the singer says, “There is absolutely nothing in me that is more impressive, no thought in my mind that is more worthy of holding, no thing more valuable in the having or doing, and nothing that is more validating than the reality that in Christ is every blessing to me and everything that is essential in life.” I love the poetry even though I struggle a little with the syntax. I turn many of these phrases over in my mind frequently and have created my own version of the song.
Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing, 11 – This is a favorite because I remember being in church with my cousin, David, in Nashville and singing this song in the morning service. Though we were just boys, we sang strong and full and with glad hearts. That memory is still vivid today. “Tune my heart to sing Thy praise; prone to wander, Lord I feel it — prone to leave the Lord I love; here’s my heart, Lord, take and seal it for thy courts above.
Jesus! What a Friend for Sinners! (AKA Our Great Savior), 17 – This is a terrific song! Linda and I chose this one for our wedding as a congregational song. I love the words, and I love the contour of the melody: so simple and still so shapely.
The Servant Song, 424 – I learned this song through a little Christian fellowship group of Fredonia faculty in one of my earliest years at the college. We would read Christian books, discuss them and have a time of prayer – I think we may have met weekly but maybe it was every other week. One of our members died during that time, and we sang that song together at his funeral. “When we sing to God in heaven we will find such harmony; borne of all we’ve known together of Christ’s love and agony.”
‘Til the Storm Passes By, 543 –I know a bunch of great old songs but I wouldn’t have known this one if Wilma Waterman hadn’t brought it to my attention. When we sing this I often think of Steve Wuthrich’s encouragement that being out in the storm where the wind is blowing hard and the noise is deafening and the waves are crashing and you are completely off balance and it all seems so out of control. . . that is exactly the place where God is ready to do tremendous work. So, be confident. Go with God. He is near and He is ready.
If you have some suggestions for other songs that you love, please tell us about it in the comments section below!