I love the hymns. The older I get, the more my love for them grows. So many are filled with rich theology expressed in beautiful poetic language. They paint pictures. They tell stories. They are filled with testimony and truth. It grieves my heart that many churches have thrown them out in an attempt to “connect” with the younger crowd. But it revives my heart to see what some of the “younger crowd” are doing with these hymns; they are bringing them back.
About 6 months ago I bought the Chris Rice album Peace Like a River on iTunes. It is filled with rich hymns well done in a simple acoustic style that appeals to the younger crowd. I love that he took “Come Thou Fount” back to the original lyrics (which are far superior to what is in most modern church hymnals!) and is introducing the original song to an brand new generation. His melodic rendition of “O Love that Will Not Let Me Go” is another example of this great marriage of old and new. How many are familiar with this hymn? How many, after listening to Rice’s beautiful harmony and gentle acoustic guitar picking version of it, can get it out of there mind? I know I find myself humming through the melody and the words regularly.
Following the Chris Rice “discovery” I then came across Red Mountain Church and their music. Red Mountain Church is located in Alabama and is blessed with gifted musicians and a love for hymns. They have put out several “Red Mountain Church” albums and some from the church have also done solo projects. Their music is filled with acoustic instrumentation, sung and performed by the “younger crowd,” who dig up some wonderful old treasures (ever heard of “Jesus cast a look upon me” or “Thy blood was shed for me”?) and are reviving songs that the church has “lost.”
Then two weeks ago, our church secretary let me listen to a CD by Jadon Lavik called Roots Run Deep. I love it! Most of the hymns on the CD are found in a typical church hymnal, but his arrangements really give them musical excitement and breathe fresh life into some wonderful songs. His version of “Tis So Sweet” is probably worth the album itself, but I also really enjoy the upbeat “Wondrous Love” and the jazz rendition of “Amazing Grace.”
These three are examples of musicians reworking old hymns for a new audience, but there are also those who are writing new hymns for the church. Later this week, I’ll share some of those recent treasures I’ve found.