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My Favorite Hymn — What a Response!

March 8, 2017

When I floated the question into cyberspace on February 15, I had no idea that so many of our blog readers would weigh in on it.

We’ll start with Peter Grenfell of Oamaru, New Zealand, who started all this:

Greetings to you all. My favourite hymn is “Eternal Father Strong to Save.” My reason for this choice is I have always loved the sea and have throughout my life been fortunate to live in areas with a view of the sea. During my Compulsory Military Training in the Navy I was fortunate to attend a church service in the Chapel of St. Christopher H.M.N.Z.S. ‘Philomel.’ It was a Memorial Service for Leander. The service was one of the most dignified and personal that I have ever attended and the singing and worship has always stayed with me.

Marilyn Nelson of Walla Walla, Washington, wrote:

My favorite song is “Tears Are a Language God Understands” because of the message it contains. He understands when we feel like crying. . . . My favorite poem is “God Has Not Promised” which has also been put to music so I guess you would say it is my favorite song as well. It too is a source of encouragement when life is hard.

Barbara Sines, from Maryland, wrote:

I always read your weekly blog with interest and like your New Zealand friends pass them along to other friends. This has provoked some good discussions among our friends. Your invitation to name a favorite hymn had me thinking of which hymn among many I would offer.

Of course, several hymns immediately came to mind but two are meaningful to me. The first is an all time favorite, “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” because it was one of the first hymns I learned to play on the piano and has remained with me since childhood. The second is “I’d Rather Have Jesus” because the words are so meaningful to me.

Hymns speak to me through their words and frequently are like sermons set to music. I am often moved to tears when singing them. At Spencerville Church where we attend church I will sometimes just stop and listen to the congregation sing. It is quite moving and humbling. Our church loves to sing! We have a wonderful well known music ministry and the organ lends itself to this atmosphere of congregational singing. Many hymns we learned in childhood at evening worship. I hope the next generations will learn to love the old hymns we know and love and listen to the words they speak to us.

Thanks for the invitation! I will be interested in reading your future blogs and responses you receive.

Linda Findley wrote:

It is a gospel song written by American songwriter C. Austin Miles (1868-1946). I think “In the Garden” is my favorite because of the mental image it creates in me. I picture walking with my Lord, Creator, and Savior through the great outdoors. He is my Mentor and Guide through life and I can come to Him with anything. I frequently use it as part of my morning worship.

Jane Johnson wrote:

Can I have more than one? “Amazing Grace,” because I feel God’s love when I hear or sing it, especially when bagpipes are played. Next is “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms,” and “Power in the Blood.” Can’t forget “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.” I’m stopping with 4 favorites. Thanks for asking. Enjoy your writing very much. Found one of your books in a thrift store and fell in love with your style. Thanks.

Elsi Dodge of Boulder, Colorado wrote:

“How Great Thou Art.”
Why do I love it?
Let me count the ways . . .

I love it because I can sing it, full volume, from the top of a mountain road, in a field of wildflowers, by a racing brook, or during a thunderstorm.

I love it because I can hum it or murmur the words when I’m driving in tricky circumstances, or parked at a rest area to catch my breath, or galumphing from campground to campground, looking for one with a site for me.

I love it because I sneaked it in at both my parents’ funerals—Mother’s because “It’s about nature, and she was a Scout, you know” and Daddy’s because “He was a Scout, too, and we sang it at Mother’s service two years ago.” It’s not in the hymnal at the non-Christian church they attended (because of those two last verses … you know, the ones about Jesus), but I happily printed out the words, and the entire congregation sang it!

I love it because I can pray it for hours when I’m in too much pain (physical or emotional) to sleep and need to be distracted: “O, Lord” … Almighty, omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent, Alpha and Omega—-“my God” … yes, You’re mine, and I’m Yours, so I’m safe, no matter how it feels right now!— “when I in awesome wonder” … yes, wonder … I wonder how You could love someone like me.

Kathleen Raffoul of Houston,Texas wrote:

I am Catholic and this song always makes me cry when I hear it at mass:
“On Eagles Wings.”
My friend who passed away several years ago had a lovely voice, and sang it often for the mass. It is a beautiful and inspiring song, and also reminds me of her, who was a very special person.

Michelle Swanson of Sturgeon, Missouri wrote:

Great idea to get folks thinking about grand music. Tough to choose a favorite hymn, there are so many great ones. My favorite is “Jesus Is Coming Again” (#213 in Adventist Hymnal). The first time that song impressed me was at campmeeting when I was seven. It was the Nebraska campmeeting theme song that year and they had four men playing the trumpets and I think the King’s Heralds were leading the song the evening I remember. Thrilling! I’ve always liked that hymn.

Ruth Newsome wrote:

It is very difficult to choose one favorite hymn from so many favorites, but for me, my one would have to be “How Firm a Foundation.” This was my Grandfather’s favorite and I came to know and love it through him. His marriage to my Grandmother was a second marriage. Previously, he had lost a wife, twin babies and another little girl to death (this was in the late 1800’s). He was left with two small boys, yet he never became bitter. I never heard him say that this hymn sustained him through all of the sorrow, but as I grew older, and I, too, began to rely on the comfort of its words, I figured out that the hope, assurance and security found in those words must have given him reasons to go on.

When I was in my first year of college, I had to take swimming and I, having never been around water, was scared to death. I would go to swimming class repeating in my head, “when through the deep waters, I cause you to go. . .”

Later in my life when facing cancer surgery, I relied on, “the soul that on Jesus has leaned for repose I’ll never, no never forsake.”

Now, I read the words of that grand old hymn and find hope, comfort and promise in every one of its verses.

I remember my grandfather and am forever grateful for him and his love of “How Firm a Foundation.”

JoAnne Lefever wrote:

Mine is “What a Friend We Have in Jesus.” This has been my favorite for as long as I can remember. I so much believe in prayer where we can take all our burdens and troubles; all our discouragements, trials, and temptations. He is a friend so forever faithful. It has all the exact words that speak to my heart and need. I love it more than all my other favorite hymns.

Julie Sobota of Conifer, Colorado wrote:

I was intrigued by your blog this morning and can’t wait to read about everyone’s favorite hymns. Mine is “I Surrender All.” Years ago at a church I attended in Texas, a very beloved pastor was driven out through a difficult time of disharmony in that congregation. I was a very new Christian at the time and I will never forget the Sabbath that pastor gave his final sermon about the importance of acceptance and forgiveness. With tears streaming down his face he led us in praising God through that beautiful hymn which teaches us to surrender our lives to Jesus. Whenever I hear it, whenever I sing it, I am once again reminded that the only way on this difficult journey is a surrender daily to our blessed Savior.

Thanks Dr. Joe for all you do!

To be continued in next week’s blog.