“I disliked very much their hymns, which I considered to be fifth-rate poems set to sixth-rate music. But as I went on I saw the great merit of it. I came up against different people of quite different outlooks and different education, and then gradually my conceit just began peeling off. I realized that the hymns (which were just sixth-rate music) were, nevertheless, being sung with devotion and benefit by an old saint in elastic-side boots in the opposite pew, and then you realize that you aren’t fit to clean those boots. It gets you out of your solitary conceit. “
I have known of this quote by CS Lewis in his “Answers to Questions on Christianity” for quite some time. However, since I had either led the music program or successfully immersed myself into a church with a very high-quality music program, I never actually had to have my sacred cow skewered. This past summer, though, we moved to a very rural area of central Tennessee. And yes, in the hills just up the road, I am sure there are plenty of old and not so old moonshiners hard at work… at least when they are sober enough to work. We have begun to look for a new church home finally, and now my cow is nowhere to be found.
This past Sunday we attended what we think is the closest church to our new home. Instead of the regular service, they had a traveling family of musicians come and lead the church in worship. Yes, imagine all of your central Tennessee stereotypes and I suspect you have a pretty good idea of what happened. But this family of seven led this modest congregation, decked out some in their Sunday’s best and others in their worn hunting gear, in a rousing hour plus time of enthusiastic worship of our Lord. My conceit was nothing but dirty rags.
Our Chicago area church may have more professional musicians than many churches have members, and the music may be far more polished and beautiful, but it never elicits the enthusiasm which was present this past Sunday in this small congregation down a small road deep in rural Tennessee.
Intellectually, I knew things would be quite different here than what I enjoyed in Chicago, but that is the point, I enjoyed… That is not the function of worship, is it?
Here are some of my favorite Hymnals:
Presbyterian 1955 Hymnbook: http://amzn.to/2zSRdpL
Episcopal 1940 Hymnal: http://amzn.to/2DEOl1H
Broadman 1940 Hymnal: http://amzn.to/2C1WuwK
Methodist 1939 Hymnal: http://amzn.to/2CfJ1Wq
Pilgrim 1935 Hymnal: http://amzn.to/2DDvbJC
Now Sings My Soul, New Songs for the Lord by: Linda Bonney Olin: http://amzn.to/2DQ6gUy
Choice Hymns of the Faith 1945 http://amzn.to/2Dx97nA
Book of Psalms for Singing https://amzn.to/2ygM00b (1912 Psalter is unavailable)
Here are my new projects:
Hymns Ancient and Modern https://amzn.to/3dfaHIY
J S Bach Riemenschneider 371 Harmonized Chorales http://amzn.to/2DSy5f9
Dictionary of Hymnology: http://amzn.to/2BxPabk
American Hymns Old and New https://amzn.to/3fqkkVU