How firm a foundation,
ye saints of the Lord,
is laid for your faith in God's excellent word!
When through the deep waters I call thee to go, the rivers of sorrow shall not overflow; . . .
- How Firm a Foundation,
lyrics by John Rippons
In the weeks we have been doing Online Worship, I have found great comfort in the lyrics of many of the hymns we have sung. I especially have been drawn to what some would call "the great old hymns of the church" -- the ones I grew up singing as a child. In these chaotic times, I know I am looking for places of comfort that transcend the transient confusion many of us are presently experiencing. When I watch our online service on Sunday morning and try to worship along with everyone else in their homes, it is often the music -- particularly the hymns, that speak to me deeply.
Maybe it's because they remind me of what I experienced in a more peaceful time growing up. It may not have actually been less chaotic, at least for me -- perhaps I was just unaware of it. However, I think it is more than just simple nostalgia that I am experiencing. When I pay attention to the lyrics of many of these "great old hymns of the church," the words speak what I need to hear. While I am aware there are certainly "older" hymns than these, and that there are some newer hymns that I would call "great" -- there is something about these hymns with lyrics that have stood the test of time. It is special to sing songs that previous pilgrims of faith -- both saints and sinners -- have sung for many years before I was ever born.
The book of Hebrews talks about how "we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses." (Hebrews 12:1, NIV) As Christians, we believe these are our sisters and brothers in the faith who have lived and died, and who now dwell in the very presence of God. In some way, I think they join us in worship every Sunday -- whether we are in the sanctuary or worshipping online. This Sunday, I invite you once again to join us online for worship, and when it comes to singing the hymns -- make a joyful noise to the Lord!