Sunday, June 21, 2009

I Miss the Old Singing

I grew up in church. We were in Sunday school and to church nearly every week of the year. Part of what I miss most about those years is the music, the wonderful harmony of hymns, the congregation singing in four-part with soprano, alto, tenor and bass voices filling in at beautiful moments.

I even miss the consistency, the repetitiveness, the tradition. Some today think "tradition" is not "real worship" in the sense that it becomes "rote". However, for me it was never rote. It was beautiful! The Scriptural readings, the words of the heavy hymns, all had great meaning to me. (Oh, I admit that there were a few hymns that just didn't "sing" to me.)

I cannot say the same for today's choruses. They are less rich. It's difficult to sing harmony. The rhythm is unpredictable. The musical notes must be picked up in the air from those leading the singing and that is just never as effective as having the written music in front of you where you can "read" the alto or tenor or whatever you sing.

One of my favorites was the doxology at our church. (Doxology - a usually liturgical expression of praise to God.) We sang it after every offering and we sang it prior to any shared meal in the basement kitchen. I still sing it now and then to myself and it never fails to lift me from a bad or ungrateful mood.

Such a simple little verse and yet such real meaning. It does us well to remember that all blessings come from God above and that all creatures owe Him praise, both creatures here below (that's us) and those in high heavenly places (the blessed angels, seraphim, cherubim and any other created creatures that we might not yet know about). I can't write the musical notes here, but the words were sung in a beautiful minor key.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow,
Praise Him all creatures here below
Praise Him above ye heavenly hosts,
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

I've found that it is impossible to bow down with grateful attitude and still maintain despair in the heart. The two do not combine. In submitting our minds and hearts to praise God, we prevent despair from ruling our lives.

Praise God, all ye creatures!


cinnamongirl93 said...

I grew up in all kinds of churches. My Mom was a seaker and we tried them all.
The only chuirch that sang like you remembered was the Mennonite Church. You are right, It was beautiful.

Diane said...

Amen. We primarily use contemporary music, though not generally choruses, with an occassional hymn thrown in. But I do miss at least having the music so I can sing a part (without having to make one up). The people on worship team don't even get the music...

I miss the theological depth of a lot of the old hymns, too.

Jennie said...

You're preachin' to the choir here. Hi, I liked your comment on Ree's wedding picture and popped over. I love the hymns. They were written for congregations to sing together. I think a lot of the songs these days are solo artists' pieces, written for solo performance and then churches try to make them fit for something else. Anyway, I love learning from and worshipping with the hymns.:)

I'm also with you on the fly/Obama thing. I grew up near a marsh with mosquitoes and green heads a swarmin'. It's kind of like being at war - a billion of them to one of me! I will swat!

Enjoyed your blog!

gramma said...

I agree with you on both subjects. Services are so different these days. I miss hearing all those good old hymns we used to sing. you have such good msgs. keep them coming.

Laurie M. said...

I was raised Lutheran. We sang hymns, exclusively, except in youth settings. I was taught to read music for choir (though I've since forgotten). We were even taught to chant the Psalms.

My church used to do two hymns and two praise choruses, but recently switched entirely to hymns. My husband and I are so happy about that. I love the rich doctrine in each verse. We sing the doxology after communion every single Sunday and it feels every time like we're joining with an ancient chorus, because those very words have be sung by believers for centuries.

BTW, I'm a terrible singer, in spite of my young choir training, but even still, I find I sing the hymns less horribly than those loosy goosy praise choruses.

McVal said...

I'm Lutheran and still sing those old hymns in my church. The only difference between our current hymnal and the one I grew up with is the Amens at the end are missing. But otherwise, it's basically the same liturgy and hymns.
When I'm traveling and visit another church with family, I feel really strange. Feeling like you should dance when you sing to the Lord is really weird to me.
I'm just too conservative, I guess!! I could never get used to that. lol!

yiddle said...

The Doxology always reminds me of Grandpa. I remember he really loved "In the Garden" He told me once it was his favorite.