Hello there, loyal readers. I’m about to take off for three days of camping, hiking, and white-water rafting in West Virginia’s New River Gorge. As I find that separating myself from technology is necessary for relaxation, I will be entirely out of touch with the internet. Fear not, though, for I shall return! This return shall take place either on Monday night or on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, here’s another hymn to tide you over: O, for a Thousand Tongues to Sing, by the great Charles Wesley. He wrote in on the first anniversary of his conversion to Christianity and in preparation for Pentecost Sunday. Wesley wrote over 6,500 hymns in his life, but this may well be the best.
One of the great benefits of converting to Christianity was that it opened up new worlds of music. I have known since I was a kid that there were a bunch of hymns out there but I never paid attention to them. In the world at large there’s little opportunity to hear hymns outside of church, except during the Christmas season when Christmas music gets poured out in excessive quantities almost everywhere. Even then, the part that one hears in malls and other public places is only a small fraction of what’s out there.
I’ve been a Christian for six years as of this month and I’m still discovering new hymns all the time. One of my most recent finds is Shall we Gather at the River. This hymn is not at all complicated is terms of music, writing, or rhyming. Indeed, its very simplicity is part of its appeal. For any well-known hymn, you can search on YouTube and find numerous performances and arrangements. This is one of my favorites:
Actually it isn’t, at least not according to the official timers. It’s 11:14 PM in the eastern time zone as I write this. According to Jewish tradition, however, a day actually starts at sunset and lasts until the next sunset. The Jews as we all know were very wise, and it’s demonstrated by the fact that they came up with an excuse to start every holiday a few hours early. Today we can time the beginning of the holiday by the ancient Jewish tradition and the ending by modern timekeeping and thus actually stretch the length of the holiday out a bit. So with that said, it’s Easter! Start the party by enjoying one of the greatest Easter hymns:
I first heard this hymn while attending Easter service at a Methodist Church in Sperryville. They told me that it was written by Charles Wesley, and that we Methodists should take pride in the fact that folks all over the world were singing our song today. The truth is actually a bit more complicated. There are ten stanzas in total, though most hymnals only contain five or six. Three of the stanzas come from an old Latin hymn that existed long before Wesley’s time. He does get credit for translating them into English and adding the other seven, so the hymn is really a collaborative effort, Catholic and Protestant, old and new. I might even say that it’s symbolic of how the truth of the resurrection transcends boundaries.
The lyrics in their entirety can be found here, with music: http://www.hymntime.com/tch/htm/c/t/l/ctlrisen.htm