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Every once in a while, at my former church, we’d break out the old (and I mean old) hymnbooks for a Wednesday evening hymn sing.
People would call out the numbers of their favorite hymns to the song leader and we’d all turn to the page and sing the old favorites.
As the evening went on the yelling got louder and more competitive as folks feared that we’d run out of time before getting to their favorite hymn.
It was interesting to see “newbies,” and the younger generations at those events.
They’d grown up after many of those hymns passed from favor, replaced by more contemporary hymns and tune, praise songs or revisionist modernized versions that stripped the elegance from the text.
I was always taken how the newbies would take to those old hymns. Rather than be put off, bored, or dismissive, they could not get enough of the experience of being drawn into the corporate memory of a church a generation removed.
Even for the teenagers in the room, the evening of corporate hymn singing from those musty old hymnbooks ended too soon.
Here’s an interesting interpretation of an old favorite, “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing,” from Sufjan Stevens.
I don’t really get the animals, but the photographs are beautiful and he’s retained the original text.
Israel Galindo is Associate Dean for Lifelong Learning at the Columbia Theological Seminary. He directs the Pastoral Excellence Program at Columbia seminary. He is the author of the bestseller, The Hidden Lives of Congregations (Alban), Perspectives on Congregational Leadership (Educational Consultants), and A Family Genogram Workbook (Educational Consultants), with Elaine Boomer & Don Reagan, and Leadership in Ministry: Bowen Theory in the Congregational Context.
His books on education include Mastering the Art of Instruction,The Craft of Christian Teaching (Judson), How to be the Best Christian Study Group Leader (Judson), and Planning for Christian Education Formation (Chalice Press).