Hymns: Great Is Thy Faithfulness

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
    for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.” – Lamentations 3:22-23

As I so often seem to do, I’m coming back to the theme of God’s enduring faithfulness.

I know some people who don’t particularly like this hymn. Those who find it too slow or too long, or those for whom it was ruined in school (there are two that I absolutely hate for that exact reason, so I can’t exactly complain…)

But I have my reasons.

Firstly, the words. It’s full-on praise. Lamentations is a pretty dark book (for a summary, The Bible Project is amazing) and yet from there – from that expression of grief – comes the wonderful bit of hope. And the hymn takes that hope and is almost defiant in reminding us of it!

The music is interesting, with a whole load of chromatic movement, and works pretty well peacefully or in exuberant joy. I think I prefer the exuberant joy – it fits better with the themes of praise and hope, even in the little things.

Hymnary.org says that the hymn “is inspired by the simple realisation that God is at work in our lives on a daily basis”. I’ve certainly come to that realisation more than a few times myself, and Great is Thy Faithfulness is a great reminder of that.

Song: O Praise The Name (Anástasis)

This choice might be surprising. My general preference for hymns and songs is that they are traditional. And most usually don’t have choruses. And most aren’t written by Hillsong.

To be fair, this song has a lot of what makes a good hymn or song. Words that speak of the Gospel. A song through which we can praise and worship God. A strong tune and harmony that is more interesting than many modern worship songs (*ducks*)

There are four verses. The first tells of Jesus’ death. The second of the dark days between Good Friday and Easter Sunday. The third is perhaps my favourite; after the darkness and pain of Jesus’ death, it tells of His glorious resurrection. It probably helps that the tune is transposed up in this verse, which just helps to add to the joy. The final verse hopes for Jesus’ return. And in between, a chorus of praise.

On reflection, I think this is a worship song I prefer to listen to. And I don’t mean to say I don’t enjoy singing it; I just think that whilst it’s an excellent song, I prefer singing other things. But I could listen to it on repeat for days, using it as a tool to worship God.

Hymns: At the Name of Jesus

“…that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
    in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
    to the glory of God the Father.” – Philippians 2:10-11

Let’s just say I’m in a particularly good mood right now. The paperwork I’ve been stressing about and worrying about for the past month or so is finally on its way to France. I’ve got one exam left, in a week’s time. The weather is fantastic. (Maybe even a little too warm…). At times like this it’s really easy to see God and praise Him for His goodness.

This hymn is lovely. Lively and upbeat, and summarising creation, Jesus’ life, death, resurrection and ascension. And then giving hope and encouragement, particularly when things are harder. It’s not always easy to praise God, although it’s something that I try to remind myself to do.

This hymn summarises exactly why I do that. Why I remind myself to praise God. Why I praise God in the first place. I love a hymn with a long list of scripture references. And so many are from the Gospels, or from Paul’s encouraging letters. The opening line comes from Philippians. Side note, we studied Philippians in CU last term. And I really loved studying it. Put simply, Paul and the Philippians are #cugoals

Anyway. We have such a hope in Jesus, and it’s so great to be able to praise Him with such a joyful, uplifting hymn that captures this hope so well.

Hymns: Thine Be The Glory

I will deliver this people from the power of the grave;
    I will redeem them from death.
Where, O death, are your plagues?
    Where, O grave, is your destruction?” – Hosea 13:14

What a great Easter hymn! It’s so joyous and bright, a wonderful reminder of Jesus’ death and resurrection. A reminder to be joyful – “Let the Church with gladness hymns of triumph sing/For her Lord now liveth, death has lost its sting!”. A reminder that God should be given all the glory.

Easter is a wonderful time of year, a fantastic celebration, and it’s such a privilege to worship God, partly through such hymns as this.

The music here really makes a good hymn great, especially as it’s usually sung on Easter Day, with a full church, the organ at full blast and a modulation in the final verse.

It’s kind of sad that as soon as Easter was over, it was straight back to work, essays and deadlines. But then again there is no better reason to praise God, and it is such a privilege to be able to celebrate it not only at Easter, but throughout the year.

Music as Worship

It’s important to remember that worship is not exclusively singing and music-making. However, music plays a hugely important part in worship and in praising God.

I’m much more likely to use traditional hymns to worship. Knowing that they’ve got a background – having been sung for generations, knowing that they’ve been used to praise and worship God for a long time – is one reason. Another being the fact that I prefer the music… (ducks).

The Psalms are a great example of singing God’s praises. Many of them are themselves songs, others, like Psalm 150, encouraging singing, dancing, and playing instruments to praise God.

And when a full congregation is singing their heart out, lifting up their voices to worship God, it’s so uplifting and so joyous. Even more so because we are all singing with one purpose: to bring praise and glory to God.

Hymns: Tell Out, My Soul

Luke 1:46-55

Tell Out, My Soul is such a joyful song, based on the words of the Magnificat, or Mary’s Song. It’s a song of praise and thankfulness, and rejoices in God’s faithfulness, might, power, and holiness.

Perhaps my favourite verse is the final one – purely for the last two lines:

“Tell out, my soul, the greatness of the Lord,
To children’s children and forever more!”

This reminds me of Psalm 145:2-3:

“Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise;
    his greatness no one can fathom.
One generation commends your works to another;
    they tell of your mighty acts.”

God is so great – and this encourages us to pass on this good news. One of the great things is that God is also constant – from generation to generation. And so we pass this on.

The music for this hymn is also wonderful. The hymn tune Woodlands was composed in 1916, and is one of my favourites just because of how uplifting it is. In fact I dare say that I can’t sing it without a smile!

This weekend was particularly special for me because one of my friends got baptised. It was at a Church I wouldn’t usually go to, but I figured I should probably go to support her! It was such a joyful occasion, with about 5 people altogether being baptised, and a celebration afterwards. It’s been wonderful to see my friend grow in faith – and I’ve learned plenty from her. Particularly in how she prays. She prays straight from the heart – she pours her heart out to God, not only praying for her and others’ needs, but also thanking God for his great goodness.

Throughout the weekend, and since, this song has been in my head, and I have dared to sing it out loud at the top of my voice a few times! It has reminded me of God’s goodness. And when people tell out the greatness of the Lord, to their friends, to their children, to their children’s children, great things can happen.

Hymns: Fairest Lord Jesus

The grass withers and the flowers fall,
    but the word of our God endures forever.” – Isaiah 40:8

I have moments sometimes, when I look at the stars, or at nature, or something beautiful, and wonder how it is that God is just so good.

This morning I was walking to a prayer meeting, and saw the stream near my home, with a lovely church in the background. It looked so serene and idyllic, and I was reminded of God’s beauty, glory and goodness. In fact, it made me so joyous I was singing all the way to the prayer meeting…

Anyway. Fairest Lord Jesus is simply beautiful. It speaks about beauty in the natural world, and in us. It finally talks about how unchanging and unfading Jesus is, which is a wonderful reminder in this ever-changing world.

“Fair are the meadows
Fairer still the woodlands
Robed in the verdure and bloom of spring!
Jesus is fairer,
Jesus is purer,
He makes the saddest heart to sing!”

This is the second verse, reminding us that no matter how good and beautiful nature is, Jesus is even better. That’s super encouraging – nature is so beautiful and yet Jesus can offer more!

But perhaps my favourite verse is the final one, which ends like this:

“Yet is their beauty fading and fleeting,
My Jesus, thine will never fade.”

It’s an important reminder that our only constant hope and joy is to be found in Jesus – beautiful things will eventually fade away, die or otherwise lose their beauty, but Jesus is eternal.

The verse I chose at the top talks about God’s everlasting Word. The chapter compares people to grass, and their faithfulness to flowers: They die, they wither, but God is ever-present and endures forever. What a blessing it is to have such a God!