I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day

This particular video is mostly narration, but I love it for the history and drama of this great song. To me, this is the “It Is Well” of Christmas hymns. Written by a man who faced tragedy in his personal life yet who found his peace in Jesus Christ.

Micah 5:5 And He will be their peace.

I heard the bells on Christmas day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet the words repeat
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

I thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along th-unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

And in despair I bowed my head:
“There is no peace on earth,” I said,
“For hate is strong, mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.”

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,
With peace on earth, good will to men.”

Till, ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day
A voice, a chime, a chant sublime,
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

Words: Henry W. Longfellow
Music: John Calkin

Top 25 Hymns?

Thom Rainer of Lifeway recently had a blog post listing the top 25 hymns sung in churches.

They are:

  1. How Great Thou Art
  2. Great Is Thy Faithfulness
  3. Blessed Assurance, Jesus Is Mine
  4. All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name
  5. Holy, Holy, Holy
  6. Jesus Paid It All
  7. Christ the Lord Is Risen Today
  8. Crown Him with Many Crowns
  9. It Is Well with My Soul
  10. To God Be the Glory
  11. The Solid Rock
  12. Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing
  13. I Stand Amazed in the Presence
  14. Victory in Jesus
  15. Nothing but the Blood
  16. Amazing Grace! How Sweet the Sound
  17. Praise to the Lord, the Almighty
  18. At the Cross
  19. Revive Us Again
  20. Be Thou My Vision
  21. Because He Lives
  22. Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee
  23. A Mighty Fortress is Our God
  24. For A Thousand Tongues To Sing
  25. America, the Beautiful

Of the top ten, we have sung all of them at our church except for “Blessed Assurance” and  “To God be the Glory.”I would argue that there are many on this list that are gospel songs rather than hymns and I think there’s a definite Southern Baptist bent to the list (“Victory in Jesus”).

My favorites from this list are “Be Thou My Vision” and “Come Thou Fount” which land at #12 and #20.  Not on this list that I think should be: “All Creatures of Our God and King.”

What’s your favorite hymn? Are any of your favorites not included on this list?



Sunday Song — For Those In Peril On the Sea

This post is a departure for me because this isn’t a song I plan on singing in church.  I turned on NBC yesterday to catch up on the olympics and they had a story by Tom Brokaw about London and World War II. As part of the story, he detailed how Winston Churchill worked to persuade Franklin Roosevelt to join in the fight.  Churchill and Roosevelt had a secret summit in Newfoundland and according to Brokaw, Churchill knew that in order to convince Roosevelt, Churchill would have to touch Roosevelt’s heart.  He did this by having a church service at which they sang hymns. It was a powerful time and they connected in a way they hadn’t before then.

Music has the power to touch our hearts and bind us together.  When we sing songs as a congregation, we affirm that we believe the words we’re singing together — that we share a common faith.

Here’s a link to an article and Churchill’s description of the service.

Here’s the hymn “For those In Peril on the Sea” (also known as “Eternal Father, Strong to Save”).

The importance of singing out

I came across this article yesterday, and I wanted to share it. It’s written by Keith McCracken and he reflects on how he was impacted by his father’s joyful singing in church. The main sound we hear during congregational singing should be voices. Our own voice and the voices of those around us.

It also made me think about the importance of singing a variety of music in church. He speaks about hearing his father’s voice as an “echo” when he sings the older hymns.  What echoes from the past do we miss when we only sing contemporary songs?

I love what he had to say to dads in his closing paragraph,
“Please sing like you mean it on Sunday morning. I am not asking you to “fake” anything… but rather embrace the very meaning these songs were written for. Seek to express your joy in your Savior Jesus Christ by singing in response to what he has done for you, and in agreement with the truths imbedded in these songs. Neither am I encouraging you to do this specifically for your children’s benefit but first for yourselves with the added comfort of knowing how much it will affect your children. I am simply encouraging you to worship in spirit and in truth. Sing strong because that is what God wants from you. Trust God to bless your children with the echo.”

See the whole article here.  And try to overlook the crazy apostrophe in the title of the article. 🙂