Monday, May 11, 2009

Contemporizing Hymns

When my life work is ended and I cross the swelling tide,
When the bright and glorious morning I shall see,
I shall know my Redeemer when I reach the other side,
And His smile will be the first to welcome me...

This is the first verse of one of my favourite hymns by Fanny Crosby . Deborah Klassen did a wonderful acappella rendition of this hymn that I love to listen to and sing along with. It is a melodically haunting song that provides an amount of comfort and reassurance knowing that:

I shall know Him, I shall know Him,
And redeemed by His side I shall stand,
I shall know Him, I shall know Him,
By the print of the nail in His hands.

So many of the hymns of the past reveal wonderful truths of our walk with God from beginning to end and though these days many church services incorporate these songs into their services, they are sung without heart or superficial heart at that. Like a child singing the alphabet song for the hundredth time. Deborah Klassen arranged the above hymn to create a contemporary feel compared to the hasty style of the original melody - many musicians have taken songs like Amazing Grace, another beautiful hymn, and contemporized it without compromising the integrity of the original. I wish more musicians would have the courage to do that. To bring an old song, perhaps near forgotten, back to new life. We are losing the heritage of these wonderful hymns. If you are a musician or an aspiring musician or you know a musician, I put forth the challenge for you to prayerfully breathe life back into the hymns of old. And if you cannot do that then I challenge you to at least sing these old hymns with a sincere heart straight to the King - sing for an audience of One.

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