Hoarse, but Happy

I have been looking forward to today for many weeks now. Back in July I think it was, I was looking on the East Texas Baptist University website for information on the writers’ conference, and I happened to see a “Hymn Sing” on their calendar of events. So I looked it up, and saw that it was a free annual event, and made note of it on my own calendar.

If you know me at all, you know I love hymns. We sing hymns exclusively at our tiny little church, and I love that, but I admit that I miss singing with a large group. When I was a young child, my family belonged to a large Baptist church in Michigan. There was an excellent pianist, a sublime organist, and wonderful congregational singing of hymns. I drank it in and was so thrilled when I could read well enough to follow along and keep up with the singing in my horrifically flat singing voice. (The best you could say about it was that it was a joyful noise!)

I have loved hymns my whole life. Singing hymns of the faith with hundreds of others is one of the greatest joys I’ve experienced and it feeds my soul like nothing else. So today I drove the thirty familiar miles to ETBU and parked in the familiar music building parking lot before making my way to the auditorium. I was hoping for a packed house. I knew the singers would mostly be of my parents’ generation, especially considering the event was held on a Friday afternoon when people were still at work.

I was right about the age of my fellow singers! There were very few younger than 70, except for an adorable group of kids in uniform. They were the choir of a local Christian school. What a great idea to send them to a hymn sing!

I was a little dismayed when I realized that the congregation was not going to be as large as I had hoped. I estimate there were about 300 people there, but in that very large auditorium it didn’t seem like much at all! It would have sounded much better in a smaller space I think. Or with 1000 voices or so.

Still . . . It was incredible to spend two hours doing nothing but sing hymns with other people. They had a great pianist and organist, and there were various song leaders who led different segments of the program. There were a few hymns I didn’t know, but that was okay–it gave me a chance to rest my voice every now and then.

Singing these hymns that have inspired me my whole life was a deeply moving experience for me. This music feeds my soul like nothing else. There were several parts where I just had to sing through my tears and not care about my shaky voice. Oh, and guess what? We sang from hymnbooks with real music in them! No words on the screen! That was wonderful.

One thing that was amusing to me was that the whole thing was so very Southern Baptist. I was born into a Conservative Baptist family, and though I have attended many Southern Baptist churches as a visitor, I have never belonged to one. Still, Baptist is Baptist, apparently. Everything about it was so familiar, from the style of the piano and organ playing to the fact that they took an offering. (All I had was some loose change but I put it all in!)

It was a wonderful way to spend my afternoon. We sang 50 hymns in two hours–obviously only one or two verses of each–and it was such a blessing. My throat might be a little scratchy now, but it was worth it! Here is the list of all the hymns we sang today, in the order we sang them. Just in case, you know, you want to sing them yourself! Next year you should all come with me.

Wonderful, Wonderful Jesus
Jesus is All the World to Me
I Need Thee Ev’ry Hour
God, Who Touchest Earth With Beauty
The Banner of the Cross
Who Is on the Lord’s Side?
More Like the Master
Jesus Paid it All
I Stand Amazed in the Presence
Revive Us Again
We Have Heard the Joyful Sound
Set My Soul Afire
Father, I Adore You
Glorious is Thy Name
Heavenly Sunlight
Praise Him, Praise Him, Jesus Our Blessed Redeemer
There is a Name I Love to Hear
This is the Day that the Lord Hath Made
Seek Ye First
Wonderful Words of Life
Love Lifted Me
How Great Thou Art
In Loving Kindness Jesus Came
Why Do I Sing About Jesus?
Redeemed, How I Love to Proclaim It
When the Roll is Called Up Yonder
I’d Rather Have Jesus
America the Beautiful
Battle Hymn of the Republic
Heaven Came Down and Glory Filled my Soul
The Lilly of the Valley
What a Friend We Have in Jesus
My Jesus I Love Thee
We’ll Work Till Jesus Comes
To the Work
Tell Me the Story of Jesus
To God be the Glory
One Day When Heaven Was Filled with His Glory
Crown Him with Many Crowns
Great is Thy Faithfulness
This is My Father’s World
Come Christians, Join to Sing
He Keeps Me Singing
Tis so Sweet to Trust in Jesus
Softly and Tenderly
Blessed Assurance
He Hideth My Soul
The Way of the Cross Leads Home
Victory in Jesus
Amazing Grace

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