Malcolm Hicks reflects on traditional hymns
Hymns play a large part in our worship at Church, and we all, I am sure, have our preferences. I must confess to being an unrepentant traditionalist: I delight to see piles of the green covered hymn books, the New English Hymnal, for distribution on a Sunday morning, and trust that the numbers posted on the hymn board will yield something stirring from Charles Wesley, or something equally satisfying from some earnest Victorian who is perhaps but a name to me. And we can all get a sense from the robust response of many others in the congregation that we are not alone.
It’s surely the happy marriage of words and music that is such a source of spiritual and psychological wellbeing (nicely complemented by the moving harmonies of our choir at the time of Mass).
Recollect some of your many first choices. Perhaps the stirring tune of Immortal, Invisible, with its perfect formulation of Divinity, ‘O Lord we would render, O help us to see ‘Tis only the splendour of light hideth thee.’ And then what of the profound effect of those hymns in minor key mode: ‘Eternal Father, strong to save, Whose arm doth bind the restless wave,’ or ‘Jesu, lover of my soul, Let me to thy bosom fly’?
The list may not be endless, but it is far too rich a repository to do justice to in a few words. So here’s to the next time that we swell with vocal inspiration once the cryptic number on the board leads to that thrill of recognition of a tried and trusted favourite.
So what is your favourite traditonal hymn? Have you one you would wish to be rescued from oblivion? (You can read one man’s choice by clicking here).