Songs in the Night Header for Blog
I don’t have to be convinced about the value of contemporary music to speak to the hearts of a new generation. I don’t need to get all worked up about those who might be accustomed to getting their music the same way they get a cheeseburger at a McDonald’s drive-through – fast and furious.  I totally get it that church is not about me and my tastes since we are here to reach those who are still outside the Kingdom.

But I still miss the old hymns of faith. I miss singing them. I miss reading their lyrics and thinking about the people who wrote them. I even miss opening the old rugged hymnal and smelling the scent of the ages as I flipped the pages to find the right hymn. And I miss harmonizing in church!

I grew up with hymns. For a while, that was all we sang in church. Over time, we memorized many of them and had our favorites. At home, my mom sang them all the time. Eventually, all my brothers and sisters – there are nine in my family – would learn them and sing them acapella as we gathered around the dinner table at our home in northern Brazil.

The major evangelical groups had their own hymnals. The Baptists had their “Christian Hymnal,” which we used – how many times growing up did I hear ‘We are like the Baptists’? Our church eventually compiled their own selection, calling it “The Little Christian Hymnal.” (Yes, the Grace Brethren have had a history of thinking small, sad to say…).The Assemblies of God had their “Christian Harp.” I once met a taxi driver who had “deviated” from the faith, as they like to say, and as I shared Christ with him, he began to feel remorse that he was no longer following Christ. He claimed he had memorized all 524 hymns in the “Christian Harp,” a point of pride, and without ceremony began to announce the number and  sing the songs as loud as he possibly could. At that point, I was just glad I was close to my destination…

Songs are the universal language of mankind. They are the like tutors, but they cost nothing and are at the tip of the tongue. Movie makers know this. Kids as young as two will watch “Frozen” once and the next day they are repeating the songs they heard in the movie. The political forces behind the genocide in Rwanda also know this. It was the cleverly put together jingles, broadcast on every street corner in the major cities through makeshift speakers mounted on top of cars, that carried the message of hate that eventually led to the slaughter of 800,000 people in a matter of days.

But songs, especially hymns, can also inspire. They can comfort and motivate. They have lifted people out of the darkness they found themselves in. They are companions to grieving hearts and at many a time function like the shepherd’s staff – steering the errant sheep into the direction of the fold. And hymns do that because their words, not only the melodies, have deep theological meaning based on sound Biblical teaching.

We will be spending several weeks looking at the history and theology of some well-known hymns of the faith in a new series we are calling “Songs in the Night – Transcending Turmoil,” starting this Sunday with the story of a man who found himself alone in the high seas, contemplating the magnitude of his losses and was willing to say “It is well with my soul.” You will be inspired!

Pastor Ivanildo C. Trindade