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Missing Hymns

Posted by on Dec 14, 2010 in community, discipleship | 21 comments

Missing Hymns

I’ve been thinking about this for quite some time, but I realized recently that I’ve never written about it. What is the “it” that I’m talking about? Missing hymns and songs.

You see, according to Scripture, there are several directions of focus for someone who is following Jesus. We are to focus on God. We are to focus on ourselves. We are to focus on other believers in community. And we are to focus on the nations (those without Christ).

As I see it, the hymns and songs that I know primarily help us with the first two focuses: God and ourselves. Most of these songs point toward our need for God and our individual relationship with God.

There are a few songs that help us focus on our responsibility to take the gospel to and serve the nations and those who are not believers.

But, there are very, very few songs that help us focus on our relationships and responsibilities toward one another in Christ.

(Perhaps, since most people get their theology from their songs, this is one explanation of the individualism rampant in today’s church – or perhaps its a symptom.)

Do you know any songs/hymns that help us focus on community in Christ?


21 Comments

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  1. 12-14-2010

    Hmmm…! VERY interesting point!

    How about, “This Little Light of Mine,” though I’m not sure that song quite takes on the stature of a hymn.

    There’s a contemporary gospel song called, “I Need You to Survive,” that might come close. The chorus is, “I pray for you; you pray for me. I love you; I need you to survive.”

    I’ll keep thinking!

  2. 12-14-2010

    Excellent observation. You are very right about people’s primary source of theology comes from what they sing, rather than what is preached from pulpits. I think it was Luther who said, “Allow me to write the hymns of the church, and I care not who writes the theology books.” (paraphrased)

    You are also right about there being few hymns/songs that focus on our relationships with one another. I just did a quick check of the songbook we use in the house churches and found only five titles that address “one another” issues. We may have to do something about that!

  3. 12-14-2010

    Community Song by Nate Navarro. Here is a link to listen to it: http://www.reverbnation.com/natenavarro

    Go down under songs on the front page and there are 2 versions of the song you can listen to.

  4. 12-14-2010

    “The Church’s One Foundation” speaks about the church as a community, though it doesn’t include relationships and responsibilities.

    Do you think that hymns should comprehensively cover the Christian life? The Psalms, for example, are much more narrowly focused than that.

  5. 12-14-2010

    Sondra,

    I like “This Little Light of Mine.” :)

    Guy,

    How many songs are in your songbook? I don’t know if I could find five songs related to community in our book.

    Tim,

    Thanks for the link! I really like that song – both versions!

    Rick,

    “Comprehensive”? Perhaps not. More examples? Yes. The topic seemed to be very important to the NT writers.

    -Alan

  6. 12-14-2010

    The topic seemed to be very important to the NT writers.

    But they didn’t write any hymns about it. Just because we use hymns for theological instruction doesn’t mean that is a proper use.

  7. 12-14-2010

    Rick,

    Well, they didn’t record any hymns about community in their NT writings (unless the first part of 1 Corinthians 12 and the end of Romans 12 are hymns/songs). But, like I said, they certainly included many, many, many paragraphs and sentences about it.

    -Alan

  8. 12-14-2010

    There’s “They Will Know we are Christians by our Love.” I had a lady in one church I pastored who requested to sing this every single week. I got sick of it, but have since realized that it’s a good reminder.

    Second, a little more “quakerish” is “Brethren, We Have Met to Worship.” I like the message in the song about helping each other, especially those who are loaded down with worry and problems. Here is a link for the lyrics:
    http://www.cyberhymnal.org/htm/b/r/brethren.htm

  9. 12-14-2010

    Jeremy,

    I like both of those hymns as far as the community aspect is concerned. There are a few others, of course, like “Blest be the tie that binds” or “We are one in the bond of love,” but I think these are few and far between when compared to hymns that encourage us toward other foci.

    -Alan

  10. 12-14-2010

    We sing more scripture songs than hymns. Eph. 4:32, Phil 4:8-9, Phil. 1:9-11, Heb. 10:23-25 are some regulars that come to mind.

  11. 12-14-2010

    Here’s one we sing, Alan. Not sure who the original author is.

    YOUR CHRIST, MY HOPE

    1)I’m thankful that God has placed me
    With you to build up His body
    Christ in you is the hope for me
    You also need Christ lived in me

    (CHORUS)
    I live if you stand firm in the Lord
    You live if I stand firm in the Lord
    My going on is for you, your going on is for me
    Not separate entities, I need you saints desperately

    2)Oh what a sweet church life have we
    Built up in Him His bride to be
    In Him steadfast you help me be
    Encouraged by Christ whom I see

    3)Your faith in Christ helps me pursue
    My progress depends upon you
    As I seek Christ with you in view
    My heart full of prayers is for you

    4)God’s heart longs, desires that we
    His lovers seek Him corporately
    On each other spent constantly
    My life is for you, yours for me

    5)I want to encourage you all
    Without your supply I would fall
    Never think that your Christ is small
    Christ needs you and so do we all

  12. 12-14-2010

    Here’s one of my favorite one anothering songs that we sing.
    It has a good easy tune that goes with it. Have you ever heard it? Sister and Brother can be used interchangeably.

    Brother let me be your servant
    Let me be as Christ to you.
    Pray that I may have the grace to
    Let you be my servant, too…

    I will hold the Christ–light for you
    In the nighttime of your fear
    I will hold my hand out to you
    Speak the peace you long to hear.

    We are pilgrim’s on a journey
    We are travelers on the road
    We are here to help each other
    Walk the mile and bear the load.

    When we sing to God in heaven
    We shall find such harmony
    Born of all we’ve known together
    Of Christ’s love and agony.

    I will weep when you are weeping
    When you laugh I’ll laugh with you
    I will share your joy and sorrows
    Till we’ve seen this journey through.

    Here’s another one we sing that I like. Also has an easy to sing tune.

    We are gathered as the body of our Lord
    And we worship him in one accord
    For He dwelleth not in temples made of stone
    He dwelleth in the heart of man alone.

    For we’re His hands, we’re His feet,
    We’re His ears, and we’re His eyes
    He’s the head & by His blood we are supplied.
    And as our lives touch and unions form
    Which cannot be destroyed,
    We are made visible, the body of our Lord.

  13. 12-14-2010

    Thanks for the lyrics everyone. Does anyone have music to go along with the lyrics?

    Eric,

    I’m especially interested in your Scripture songs. Do you have lyrics and music for those?

    -Alan

  14. 12-15-2010

    There is a chorus that is sung by some congregations I know around the time of the Lord’s Supper when they also do the foot washing called Together We Wash One Another’s Feet.

    It does reflect the communal responsibility of serving each other as we go through life’s journey together even if there is an element of having a go at those who ‘say we have no right’.

  15. 12-15-2010

    Alan,

    I have a recording of Phil 1:9-11 and of Phil 4:8 that some brothers from our assembly made that I will email to you shortly (actually there is a collection of 10 songs recorded that we give away since so many seem to enjoy the scripture songs). I don’t have recordings of the others I mentioned above. They are arrangements made by brothers in the group, so there isn’t any sheet music. I may be able to get some made for you though.

    Another source for this type of music is Ron and Patti Vaillant. We sing some of their arrangements also:

    http://www.scripturesongs.com/Scripture_Songs/SCRIPTURE_SONGS_-_KJV_BIBLE.html

    Everything is KJV….maybe you could work up an ESV “arrangement”. ;)

  16. 12-15-2010

    Josh L’s “I’m thankful that God has placed me” can be found with lyrics, sheet music, mp3, midi file, etc. at http://www.hymnal.net/hymn.php/ns/117

    Rod’s “Brother, let me be your servant” is a wonderful hymn with a common 8.7.8.7.D meter. One of the better known 8787D tunes is BEACH SPRING to which the hymn “Come ye sinners, poor, and needy” is most often sung. It also is the tune most used for “Brother, let me be your servant” and can be found in the 1991 Baptist Hymnal, #613.

  17. 12-15-2010

    Christopher,

    I’ve never heard of that one. Thanks!

    Eric,

    Thanks again for the files!

    Guy,

    That’s awesome, too. Thanks!

    -Alan

  18. 12-16-2010

    very interesting!!

  19. 1-31-2013

    “Send the Light,” “We’ve a Story to Tell” and “Go to the World” were a few that came to my mind. But your point is well taken. The ratio of individually driven hymns to misionally driven hymns is very skewed. The issue is one of a cyclical nature, I think. Theology drives these songs and songs, as you suggest, often drive our theology. So, I suppose this issue goes both ways.

  20. 1-31-2013

    You might also want to look into the song Heart With Loving Heart United. It has a really nice tune and is a fun song to sing as a group. It was written by Nikolaus Ludwig von Zinzendorf in 1723. He was a count who became a Moravian and took them under his wing when they were being persecuted. The Moravians were a people who had met outside of organized religion for a while. Often lived in community and were radical in missions. It is said that when they left for missions they would pack there belongings in a wooden coffin because they knew they would probably be needing it shortly. Near me there is a town of Lititz which has a Moravian Church gathering. This town was established as a Moravian community originally. Of course now the Moravian Church in Lititz is institutional like most other churches. A few years ago one of our house churches in the area had a joint sponsored meeting with the Moravian church here. The speaker from the Moravian Church mentioned it was interesting having this joint meeting because in our history we met in this way as well.

    This is a link to the song with the words and tune.

    http://rockhay.tripod.com/worship/music/zinzendorf.htm

  21. 1-31-2013

    Matt,

    Interestingly, the hymns you mentioned are all related to evangelism – that is, from believer to unbeliever. I’m familiar with many evangelism type hymns from my past. I don’t remember as many hymns focused on believer to believer relationships, although that seems to be very prevalent in the New Testament.

    Rod,

    The Moravians are a group that I know very little about. I’ve read a little Spener and know something of Zinzendorf’s history. Thanks for mentioning this hymn. I had never heard of it before.

    -Alan

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