Church, Music and me (an introduction)

It would be a safe guess that Jesus Loves Me was the first song I learned to sing. Sunday School songs came long before Romper Room and Mary Poppins. I was raised with the kind of choruses that had motions. We sang about Zacheus being a wee little man as we held our hand out low and then we pantomimed his climb up the sycamore tree.

Our fingers numbered 1, 2, and 3 when we sang about Peter, James and John and we folded our arms in some kind of makeshift sailboat. We climbed and sailed and marched and clapped. We didn’t let Satan blow (insert a blowing sound) out our little light but we did let him sit on a tack.

church stretch

Over the holidays our family played a questions game and one asked what song did we know every word by heart. My immediate answer was Happy Birthday. My son questioned, “not even a U2 song?”. When I gave it a moment’s thought the songs I know every word to are the ones learned in church. Some with motions, most without. Songs seldom sung these days.

Bible stories were taught in these childhood choruses and theology sung in the old hymns. Not all of the theology we sang was sound but stories were told.

When Alzheimer’s was taking more of mama’s mind and she didn’t know me as her daughter, her foot tapped and head nodded as she mouthed the words to the old gospel tunes. Music has a way of working deep into our core. It engages our brain and wraps around heart.

Music has a profound impact on my life. Its melodies and rhythms move me, often literally, and the lyrics instruct, remind, articulate and celebrate so many things in life.

Nearly every Sunday in my daddy’s church ended with the song Just As I am. These words accurately convey the gospel invitation that Jesus wants us just as we are.

The 5th verse says:

Just as I am, thou wilt receive,
wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve;
because thy promise I believe,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Its old words use to get in my way, the Thee’s and Thou’s, but the meaning was always clear. I’m coming with all my baggage because I believe the promise of God. The Promise that he sent his son into this world to save us, to receive, welcome, pardon, cleanse and relieve us from our sin.

It was a song sung as an invitation. As daddy stood behind the pulpit leading this song inviting people to come forward to the altar or to pray in their seats but come to Jesus. Just as you are.

Just as I am, though tossed about with many a conflict, many a doubt,
fightings and fears within, without,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

4 Comments

  1. Linda Stoll said:

    With you, I sang those same songs. My sister and I joke that we know every verse to every hymn sung since the ’50s.

    And while I prefer contemporary worship in this season, it’s the old hymns that are the go-to songs in the night.

    What a beautiful reflection you’ve offered, friend … bless you.

    January 15, 2017
    Reply
    • Debby Hudson said:

      Yes, the same here, Linda. I like the simplicity of the newer songs, especially how our men enjoy them, but it’s the old ones that come speak to me still. I’m going to start writing more about music on Sundays. Just once or twice a month. It’s such a sweet part of my life.

      January 15, 2017
      Reply
  2. Annie Rim said:

    This is what I love so much about the hymns – they tell stories and are etched into my memory. Bea is at a very traditional, conservative Lutheran preschool. I’m not sure how I feel about all the theology they teach but I do love that she is learning these songs – the ones I grew up with. Wherever her spiritual journey leads, I’m glad she has those songs as a foundation.

    January 16, 2017
    Reply
    • Debby Hudson said:

      Yes, those songs are a wonderful foundation, Annie.

      January 16, 2017
      Reply

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