Thursday, October 01, 2009

Favorite hymns

A friend asked me to recommend some classic hymns. Off the top of my head, here are some of my personal favorites:

Amazing Grace

Be thou my vision

Come, thou Fount of every blessing

God moves in a mysterious way

Guide me, O thou great Jehovah

I look from afar

I need thee every hour

I'll praise my Maker while I've breath

Now thank we all our God

O come, O come Emmanuel

O God, our help in ages past

On Jordan's stormy banks I stand

Sometimes a light surprises


  1. Caution: You are now entering a Wesley-free zone. ;)

  2. The Indelible Grace versions of those last two are really good.

    I told my wife there are four songs I want played at my funeral:

    A Mighty Fortress is our God
    Fairest Lord Jesus
    O Worship the King

    ...and "Subdivisions" by Rush :)

  3. Great is They Faithfulness didn't make the cut?

    I tried to list my favourites, but I started running out of daylight before I came close to running out of hymns.

  4. Such a shallow repository for Hymns! :)


    Thy hand shall on rebellious kings
    A fiery tempest pour, While we beneath thy shelt'ring wings Thy just revenge adore. Book 1 Hymn 42----------------------
    May I with those for ever dwell Who here were my delight! While sinners, banished down to hell, No more offend my sight. Book 1, Hymn 45
    Let atheists scoff, and Jews blaspheme Th' eternal life and Jesus' name; A word of thy almighty breath Dooms the rebellious world to death. Book 1, Hymn 22, Part 1
    But vengeance and damnation lies On rebels who refuse the grace; Who God's eternal Son despise, The hottest hell shall be their place. Book 1, Hymn 100
    There endless crowds of sinners lie, And darkness makes their chains; Tortured with keen despair they cry, Yet wait for fiercer pains. Not all their anguish and their blood For their old guilt atones, Nor the compassion of a God Shall hearken to their groans. Book 2, Hymn 2
    With holy fear and humble song, The dreadful God our souls adore;
    Justice has built a dismal hell, And laid her stores of vengeance there.[Eternal plagues, and heavy chains, Tormenting racks, and fiery coals, And darts t' inflict immortal pains, Dyed in the blood of damned souls.][There Satan, the first sinner, lies, And roars, and bites his iron bands; In vain the rebel strives to rise, Crushed with the weight of both Thy hands.]There guilty ghosts of Adam's race Shriek out, and howl beneath thy rod Once they could scorn a Savior's grace, But they incensed a dreadful God. Tremble, my soul, and kiss the Son; Book 2, Hymn 44
    God the thunderer; or, The last judgment and hell. [Made in a great sudden storm of thunder, August 20, 1697.]
    His sounding chariot shakes the sky, He makes the clouds his throne; There all his stores of lightning lie, Till vengeance darts them down. His nostrils breathe out fiery streams And from his awful tongue A sovereign voice divides the flames, And thunder roars along. Think, O my soul! the dreadful day, When this incensed God Shall rend the sky, and burn the sea, And fling his wrath abroad. What shall the wretch the sinner do? He once defied the Lord; But he shall dread the Thund'rer now, And sink beneath his word. Tempests of angry fire shall roll To blast the rebel worm, And beat upon his naked soul In one eternal storm. Book 2, Hymn 62

  6. The unbelieving world shall wail, While we rejoice to see the day: Book 1, Hymn 61
    Thy sword shall give my foes to death, And send them down to dwell In the dark caverns of the earth, Or to the deeps of hell. Psalm 63, Part 2
    ------------------------------- Till I retired to search thy word, And learn thy secrets there. There, as in some prophetic glass, I saw the sinner's feet High mounted on a slipp'ry place, Beside a fiery pit. I heard the wretch profanely boast, Till at thy frown he fell; His honors in a dream were lost, And he awakes in hell. Psalm 73, part 1
    On impious wretches he shall rain Tempests of brimstone, fire, and death; Such as he kindled on the plain Of Sodom, with his angry breath. Psalm 11
    He loves his saints, he knows them well, But turns the wicked down to hell: Thy God, O Zion! ever reigns; Praise him in everlasting strains. Psalm 146
    ------------------------------- The terrors of thy frown Shall beat their madness down:
    ------------------------------- Thy saints with holy fear Shall in thy courts appear, Psalm 93 6,6,8,6,6,8
    ------------------------------- See His own sons, when they appear before Him, Bow at His footstool, and with fear adore Him. Psalm 93 10,10,10,10,11,11
    No more shall atheists mock his long delay; His vengeance sleeps no more: behold the day!...Lest, like a lion, his last vengeance tear Psalm 50
    "How awful is thy chast'ning rod!" May thy own children say: "The great, the wise, the dreadful God!How holy is his way!" Psalm 77, part 2
    For God shall raise the dead.Then his high praise shall fill their tonguesTheir hands shall wield the sword;And vengeance shall attend their songs,The vengeance of the Lord.
    Then shall they rule with iron rod Nations that dared rebel; And join the sentence of their God On tyrants doomed to hell. The royal sinners bound in chains New triumphs shall afford: Such honor for the saints remains; Praise ye, and love the Lord! Psalm 149
    Excerpts from THE WORLD TO COME OR DISCOURCES ON THE JOYS OR SORROWS OF DEPARTED SOULSby Isaac Watts [In the firey little "hell discourse" above, Watts even indulges in blaming the Jews for "the cruel barbarous murder of his Son Jesus."]

  7. Actually, Ed, one of the great things about the Psalter is its psychological realism. It prepares the Christian for the lows as well as the highs of the Christian pilgrimage. Excellent spiritual conditioning. After reading the Psalter, you know what to expect.

  8. Great quotes, Ed. I guess BDSM has its share of Christian practitioners, even if they have to wait to indulge themselves.

    Actually, I must admit a particular fondness for "It Is Well With My Soul". It's a bit more well-structured than many other hymns.

    I simply cannot abide any "Christian contemporary" that involves folk-sounding tunes that were really only "contemporary" in 1965.

  9. I am glad you replied that way to Ed, Steve, as I am more so now beginning to appreciate Psalms such as:::>

    Psa 137:1 By the waters of Babylon, there we sat down and wept, when we remembered Zion.
    Psa 137:2 On the willows there we hung up our lyres.
    Psa 137:3 For there our captors required of us songs, and our tormentors, mirth, saying, "Sing us one of the songs of Zion!"
    Psa 137:4 How shall we sing the LORD's song in a foreign land?
    Psa 137:5 If I forget you, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget its skill!
    Psa 137:6 Let my tongue stick to the roof of my mouth, if I do not remember you, if I do not set Jerusalem above my highest joy!
    Psa 137:7 Remember, O LORD, against the Edomites the day of Jerusalem, how they said, "Lay it bare, lay it bare, down to its foundations!"
    Psa 137:8 O daughter of Babylon, doomed to be destroyed, blessed shall he be who repays you with what you have done to us!
    Psa 137:9 Blessed shall he be who takes your little ones and dashes them against the rock!

    I mean, come on, after a song like that one, the words of John here makes more sense:::>

    Rev 18:4 Then I heard another voice from heaven saying, "Come out of her, my people, lest you take part in her sins, lest you share in her plagues;
    Rev 18:5 for her sins are heaped high as heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities.
    Rev 18:6 Pay her back as she herself has paid back others, and repay her double for her deeds; mix a double portion for her in the cup she mixed.

    It's not easy for a bloke like me to get so aggressive when singing! :)

  10. A problem with a lot of hymns is that they have one or two good lines or stanzas, but mixed with other portions that aren't as good. Some, like O Come, O Come, Emmanuel, which is my favorite Christmas hymn, are consistently good. But most aren't.

    And the quality of the lyrics and the quality of the music often don't match. Some of the best lyrics are set to music that's far worse.

    I won't attempt to list all of my favorite hymns or put them in order. But I'll mention a few that quickly come to mind and haven't been cited yet:

    And Can It Be?

    Be Still, My Soul

    The Sands Of Time Are Sinking

    I Once Was A Stranger

    Jesus, Thy Blood And Righteousness

    For those who don't know, the lyrics of The Sands Of Time Are Sinking were taken from the writings of Samuel Rutherford.

    If I had to choose the best piece of literature outside of the Bible, it would be a Protestant hymnal.

  11. Most of the ones Steve listed are among my faves too. But my single fave is probably "The sands of time are sinking."

  12. Jason said:

    If I had to choose the best piece of literature outside of the Bible, it would be a Protestant hymnal.

    Thanks, Jason.

    If I remember correctly, ML-J said the same. And I believe it was Luther who said music is the highest study one can undertake after theology.

  13. BTW, Steve wrote an excellent five part series on music several years back: one; two; three; four; and five.

  14. "O Sacred Head now Wounded" and "Great is thy Faithfulness"

    I love the old hymns.

  15. There are indeed some great older hymns. Great Is Thy Faithfulness, Holy Holy Holy, And Can It Be, and Crown Him With Many Crowns are some I would add to the list here.

    I would observe that there are some new hymns still being written that have some meat and glorify God. In Christ Alone and O Church Arise are a couple.

    There are plenty of more contemporary worship tunes that are good as well. I offer Revelation Song and How Great Is Our God as examples.