Monday, March 27, 2006

OLD HYMNS-OLD PEOPLE

I remember as a kid, the age of about 4 or 5, being in my old church, looking over at a very very elderly man sitting next to me as the congregation sang "The Old Rugged Cross". I remember watching him as he sang, somehow it seemed as though he understood. He understood the story of the old rugged cross. I did not know who he was or even if I ever saw him again but just looking at that old man and hearing that song for the first time made an impression on me as a small child. Generations apart, yet as a child I marveled at him and remembered the words to that old song.

I also will never forget Dorothy Cleveland. Always smiling. I was told she was born on a missionary trail in Africa. I never once saw that lady open up a hymn book but she sang every word of every song. I always wondered about that. Mrs. Cleveland used to look across the room during the service and give me the biggest smile. I knew that there was one person who looked right through me and loved the person deep inside regardless of my childish faults.

It was a small church but every Wednesday night we would gather. Kids and adults. The elderly and the very young. We gathered for prayer. We sang the old hymns. I wasn't ushered off to some children's program. I was there with these old people. I know it was boring, I know kids can't relate to that, I know I would wander off into la la land and would become totally bored with church and when I get older I will have no interest in God because of those old songs that don't relate to the youth and the boring speakers...blah blah blah. You've heard it all before. We've all heard it all before by the experts.

I know there is nothing inherently sacred with old hymns. It's not really about the hymns. It's more about a truth which transcends generations. A truth which unites generations. The songs that I saw Dorthody Cleveland sing without ever opening a hymn book were the same songs that I was learning as a child. It was the same songs that my mother and father were singing. It was the same songs that Dorthothy Cleveland's parents and grandparents were singing as she looked up at them as a child, studying their faces the same I had done when I was a child. There was a heritage. There was a legacy.

I can't understand what we are doing. Why are we so eager to get rid of the hymns which have lasted from generation to generation ? Aren't we supposed to get rid of the things which are a hinderance to our faith being built up ?

Why are we so sure that we have to separate the old people from the young ? For crying out loud, isn't there any value in our young children and teenagers being in the same room as the older people ? Do we think it's right to just throw out the value and spiritual wisdom and stability the kids can learn from being with, worshiping with, even participating in bible studies with the elderly ?

Some of my fondest memories as a child learning about this marvelous faith in Christ was the interaction I had with the elderly. Some of the richest and most spiritual acts of faith I saw demonstrated as a child were manifested in the character and actions of the elderly.

I learned from them. I sat listening to them, silent. I sat there and did not say a word. I listened. I learned. I remembered.

"Blest Be the Ties That Bind"...every Wednesday night, as we ended our prayer meeting, we would all hold hands in one big circle and sing that old hymn. I look forward to that day when we will sing that song again together, the old and the young...as one.

"Blest be the tie that binds
Our hearts in Christian love;
The fellowship of kindred minds
Is like to that above.

Before our Father’s throne
We pour our ardent prayers;
Our fears, our hopes, our aims are one
Our comforts and our cares.

We share each other’s woes,
Our mutual burdens bear;
And often for each other flows
The sympathizing tear.

When we asunder part,
It gives us inward pain;
But we shall still be joined in heart,
And hope to meet again."

-KTO

7 Comments:

Anonymous Lindon said...

Wow, you are telling my story...of days past. My mom was the organist so I had to sit on the front row and be quiet. All she had to do was give me a 'look' and I knew I was in trouble! But I still know those old hymns by heart.

We hardly sing old hymns at church anymore. However, we did sing them at my moms funeral...she had them picked out in her planning packet!

I am teaching them to my 5 year old and she loves them.

9:42 PM  
Anonymous Lindon said...

Wow, you are telling my story...of days past. My mom was the organist so I had to sit on the front row and be quiet. All she had to do was give me a 'look' and I knew I was in trouble! But I still know those old hymns by heart.

We hardly sing old hymns at church anymore. However, we did sing them at my moms funeral...she had them picked out in her planning packet!

I am teaching them to my 5 year old and she loves them.

9:42 PM  
Blogger KCO said...

I've got to get in on this one.

Shame on the church today for neglecting so great an opportunity to pass down a legacy of the hymns which has taken hundreds of years to build! Only to replace this legacy with often shallow, touchy-feeling songs that are based on the CCM pop charts, with the life span as fleeting as a shooting star.

LET'S BRING BACK SOME OF THE THE SIMPLE, TRIED AND TESTED gifts and legacies of worship before it's too late!

11:17 AM  
Anonymous joe oliver said...

When I Survey The Wondrous Cross is so good that they have a mordern version of it . You are right today singing those Hyms is a great comfort to me and it is a shame that our children miss that. At home when all our family gets together even many of my Grandchildren do not know the words.Keep reminding us . Joe O>

1:45 PM  
Anonymous joe oliver said...

When I Survey The Wondrous Cross is so good that they have a mordern version of it . You are right today singing those Hyms is a great comfort to me and it is a shame that our children miss that. At home when all our family gets together even many of my Grandchildren do not know the words.Keep reminding us . Joe O>

1:45 PM  
Blogger norman kelleher said...

Hey kco and kto, you guys are amazing. Thanks for taking the time to do this. I know it isn't easy.I didn't grow up in the church and none of my family are christian, but I can tell you that I would much rather hear those incredible hymns that have stood the test of time than these new "Britney Spears" sounding diddies. I personally believe that there is a reason that children are being separated from adults in these churches and that is to make it easier to influence them.

Throughout history traditions were passed down from generation to generation by the children interacting with the adults and this kept the conservative culture intact. Social scientists have said that the best way to make a radical transformation is to break an entire generation away from their parents and then you can transform them very easily. I know that sounds like some conspiracy theory but I think the Bible makes it very clear that what we have going on is a spiritual battle between Jesus and satan.

Get the kids away from the wisdom of the parents and manipulate away.

Thanks again guys.

3:15 AM  
Blogger KCO said...

Hey Doobage,

Norman, your perspective is right on target! You've got a way with words. Keep the comments coming. Your input is needed and helpful in bringing clarity to confusing issues of the day.

-KCO

4:15 PM  

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