Sunday, September 16, 2007

Old Fashioned Hymn Sing Anyone?

A friend told me about a Shaped-Note harp sing that he attended recently in Brooklyn. It must have been amazing. I have to say that I was very sad when many of the Mennonite Churches changed their hymnals to what seems to now include very few of the old standards. I recently attended a Mennonite Hymn Sing
where their newer hymnal was used, and I was heartened by the requests that folks called-out, even those among the younger demographic-I made a mental note that all except one, were old standards! This lead me to wonder how many of us are even singing any of the other songs in this new, more modern, Mennonite Hymnal? I personally feel that the old hymns are what I connect with most in my Mennonite faith. I apologize if I seem to be complaining, I just grew up a very traditional Mennonite.

I still get teased by my NYC friends, because while so many of them grew up reading the classics, I was busy memorizing The King James version of the Bible, much of which can still recite. Many churches don't read from that version anymore, but I cannot help myself as I still reverse-translate whatever scripture is being quoted to me, back into the good ol' KJV!

I leave you with this beautiful sacred hymn that a kind soul sent to me with the hope I'd find some comfort as I mourn my cousin's passing:

121 Florence
Tune: Thomas W. Carter, 1844
Words: Philip Doddridge, 1755
Meter: Common Meter Double (8,6,8,6,8,6,8,6)

Not many years their rounds shall roll,
Each moment brings it nigh,
Ere all its glories stand revealed,
To our admiring eye.
Ye wheels of nature speed your course,
Ye mortal pow’rs, decay;
Fast as ye bring the night of death,
Ye bring eternal day.

Ye weary, heavy-laden souls,
Who are oppressed and sore,
Ye trav’lers through the wilderness
To Canaan’s peaceful shore.
Though chilling winds and beating rains,
The waters deep and cold,
And enemies surrounding you,
Take courage and be bold.

Though storms and hurricanes arise,
The desert all around,
And fiery serpents oft appear,
Through the enchanted ground.
Dark nights and clouds and gloomy fear —
And dragons often roar —
But while the gospel trump we hear,
We’ll press for Canaan’s shore.


Jay Miller said...

College Mennonite in Goshen, IN webcasts their worship. They know how to sing and they sing many of the old Mennoniet standards. I too was raised in the conservative Mennonite church and truly miss the singing. I've yet to find any other religious community that can compete!

Mary Ellen said...

Dear Jay,

It's so true, isn't it? The Mennonites have really got the harmonies down. We do have some tough competition though ;) I've actually heard some incredible Baptist choirs, and even the Methodists give us a run for our frugal dollars!

Not to harp on this (pun intended), but it's my opinion that the modern Methodist hymnal now tops the modern Mennonite hymnal for carrying far more of the old standards. What happened to our hymnal? If you get a chance, take a peek at the current Methodist hymnal. In it, they still have the old-fashioned statement from John Wesley, telling you "how you shall sing!" or "Rules for singing." What a hoot!

Thanks for posting and I hope you come back again soon. If I get to Goshen, you know where I'll be Sunday morning!