As I was reading the latest edition of The Mennonite which describes the selection process for our new hymnal Voices Together as well as the part music has played in the lives and congregations of various contributors, I thought back to some of the hymns that have been so significant in my life. Grandpa Soldner always wanted the family to sing “To God Be the Glory” when we were together. At Hartzler gatherings Grandpa asked that we join hands and sing “Bless Be the Tie That Binds” before we departed on the long journey home. “Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee” was sung at all my sibling’s weddings and at my parents’ memorial services. And we always raised our voices in joyful, four-part harmony to sing “Great God the Giver of All Good” before family holiday meals. As the family grew with in-laws and then the next generation, they too learned the blessing and their part of the harmony.
I was one of the minority who marked “yes” on the survey question about whether we sang along to hymns during our pre-recorded services. I do not own the two smaller songbooks; I have Hymnal: A Worship Book, but often I do not need it. Singing along allows me to participate even when the service is pre-recorded, and I would love for even more hymns to be included in our services. As I sing, I like to imagine that I am in the sanctuary and I can hear all of us who worship together join in the singing.
God of grace and God of glory
On thy people pour they pow’r.
Crown thine ancient church’s story,
Bring her bud to glorious flow’r.
Grant us wisdom, grant us courage,
For the facing of this hour, for the facing of this hour..