The Songs I Remember from the Pew

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September 1, 2013 by Beth Hess

hymnalPerhaps it’s the nostalgia that comes with knowing there are just a few months left in your 30s. The revival of these familiar songs by popular artists has added to the appeal as well.

Whatever the reason, my spirit has been refreshed recently by melodies I remember from a cracked-binding book housed in the back of the crushed-padding pew. (The cushions were mustard yellow, of course.)

I admit the depth of truth in these words were mostly lost on me as a 6-, 10-, 12-year old girl. And by the teenage & college years, I had repeated them too many times to find any feeling in the familiarity.

Praise choruses took over church playlists, and I left the “old” and “boring” tunes back with the giant wooden pulpit and the silver communion trays and other elements of traditional church that I remember fondly, but only in the way you think of a sweet aunt of your mother who hosted a nice lunch but you don’t care to visit again.

But these days I am learning that in the way a Veteran appreciates our National Anthem more than the average fan in the stands, perhaps only a cracked and broken heart, a spirit scarred by sin and marked by imperfection, and a prisoner set free can feel the full balm of singing loudly about Amazing Grace and Counting Blessings and the Power in the Blood and about coming Just As I Am.

It is the sick who need a physician. For me, a refillable prescription from the Baptist Hymnal has been just what the doctor ordered.

Because many of these hymns of my childhood have prompted more grown-up reflections, I’ll be doing some blogging about it from time to time. Watch for posts tagged “Reflections on the Hymns.”


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