Our Family

Our Family

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

A Heritage of Hymns

As a worship leader I am keenly aware of the debate between hymns and non-hymns. It is really a silly discussion. First of all, God doesn't care in what style we worship as long as we worship Him for who He is. Secondly, the answer is doing both. We do not do a hymn every service; however, during extended altar times I pull out a lot of the old hymns. We use them during offering and for the occasional selection during worship. You see, I realized one day that I wanted my kids to know the old hymns that my grandparents knew. Don't get me wrong I love all the new stuff too, but there is something of our spiritual heritage that will be lost if all hymns are set aside.

When we sing a hymn we are joining our voice with millions of the faithful through the ages. Many hymns that we sing are 200 plus years old. Think of the great men and women of faith who sang and worshipped through these hymns.

Here are a few words from some of my favorites. Think about these words and the depth that are in them.

"How marvelous, how wonderful! And my song shall ever be. How marvelous, how wonderful! Is my Savior's love for me." - My Savior's Love - Charles Hutchinson Gabriel

"When peace like a river attendeth my way. When sorrows like sea billows role. Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say, it is well, it is well with my soul." - It Is Well - Horatio Gates Spafford

"I need Thee, oh I need Thee; every hour I need Thee. O bless me now my Savior. I come to Thee." - I Need Thee Every Hour - Annie Sherwood Hawk

and my favorite hymn - I Am Thine, O Lord - Fanny Jane Crosby (I love Ms. Crosby)

"Draw me nearer, nearer, blessed Lord, to the cross where thou hast died; Draw me nearer, nearer, nearer, blessed Lord, to Thy precious bleeding side."

As I sit and think this morning of my Godly heritage, while listening to Crystal Lewis' Hymn CD, I can't help but look forward to sharing this heritage of hymns with our little girl that will be coming to us soon. She has been chosen by her mom and I. Just as we were chosen by Christ.

Sometimes I don't understand why God has allowed the Lewis family to have such a rich heritage of faith. Then I remember, it is because God forgave and called a poor man from Lake of the Ozark, MO. When he took his family into a small Assemblies of God church in Jefferson City, MO our family was forever changed. He, my grandfather Rev. Harry Lewis, prayed for his children, his grandchildren, to the 4 and 5th generation. A testament of that faith is that all of us, every Lewis, are serving God.

My prayer is what G-pa's was, "May God continue to keep us to the 4, 5th generation, and beyond. May we pass this heritage to those who were born of our flesh and the ones who will be grafted in. May every Lewis remain faithful until Jesus returns. May our heritage of hymns teach us of our great God."


  1. Greetings from Wordwise Hymns. Your blog caught my eye because of the reference to Fanny Crosby’s beautiful gospel song, “Draw Me Nearer.” I posted an article on it this morning.

    From all you’ve said, I’m sure we are Christian brothers, and your obvious love of our traditional hymnody is encouraging. However, you may need to give some thought to your statement that the debate between hymns and non-hymns “is really a silly discussion.” It seems to me that could impugn anyone who differs with your point of view.

    Just out of curiosity, I checked the dictionary’s definition of the word “silly.” Among other things, I was informed that it means: weak-minded or lacking good sense; stupid or foolish; absurd; ridiculous; irrational. Ouch! Is that really what you think about any of God’s people who don’t share your opinion?

    I’ve studied our hymns and gospel songs for about fifty years. I write about them regularly, in a weekly newspaper column, as well as on my blog, and in books that are either published or on the way. I’ve also hosted two radio programs, and taught a couple of college courses on the subject. I tell you these things not to boast, but simply to indicate that I have given the matter a great deal of consideration.

    There are many churches, including the one my wife and I presently attend that, out of conviction, reverse what you describe for your own church. (“We do not do a hymn every service.”) In our case, we use mostly hymns, with an occasional more contemporary song or chorus. As you note, our treasury of hymns is part of our Christian heritage. Churches that ignore the hymn book, or remove it from the pews, are missing a great deal. There is a spectrum of doctrine and a depth of devotion in those songs that is rarely matched today.

    Further, are you really sure that “God doesn't care in what style we worship as long as we worship Him for who He is”? That relegates the style to merely a matter of taste and preference, but I’m not so sure we should do that. Sometimes, “what is highly esteemed among men is an abomination in the sight of God” (Lk. 16:15). When Israel had thoughts of adopting some of the worship style of the heathen in their worship of Jehovah, the Lord’s response was swift and severe (Deut. 12:29-31).

    It’s a form of the old argument that the end justifies the means. But there are many examples in the Word of God illustrating that it often does not. Nadab and Abihu were struck dead by the Lord for using “profane fire” on the altar of incense (Lev. 10:1-2). “Fire is fire, what’s the difference?” some might say, just as some today might say “music is music.” But music is a language all on its own, and if it’s saying something different from what the words are saying, the result can be confusion. Factors such as historical context, and association are also important, among a number of others.

    Well, I may have already overstayed my welcome. :-) Just wanted to give you another point of view. God bless you in your ministry for the Lord.

  2. I appreciate your comments. My use of the word "silly" is in reference to the fact that people argue over it. In the church we should be unified as those in Acts 2. In light of eternity the discussion over hymns and more modern songs is very unimportant. My point is that both are valued and both have a place in the church. I thank you for you opinion.

  3. As a follow up, I do think that God cares little over style. If He did the Africans, Asians, Latin Americans, and others would need to worship as we do or us as them. Style is relitive to church personality and cultural diversity. Thanks again.