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Hymnals + Paths

February 1, 2010

One of the many things I love about my church community is that there, gathered in the midst of an old mall where everything is stripped down and industrially bare, we often sing old hymns. I grew up as a child in a very traditional church in Ohio, with big stained glass windows and well-worn hymnals, where clapping too loudly seemed to startle cute little old ladies in hats (bless ’em). Nearly every song we would sing would require me to mentally chase the song through all its verses, having horrid flashbacks of piano lessons as I tried to follow the notes, and I’d end up out of breath and cranky. I’d collapse in the bright orange pew, sitting next to my mother and would often proceed to fall asleep on her lap. Though hymns were a little hardcore for an eight year old, as I got older I began to appreciate their beauty and their King Jamesly-ness.

Though where I am today is elsewhere from the childhood I remember, I love the bridge those words provide between these two branches of the same tree. Whether you identify more with the ladies in the hats who prefer the solemn stained glass or you connect with someone like me who is seeking God through another path, it is unifying to know that we come together through these old songs.

This is one of my very favorites:

“His Love Can Never Fail”

I do not ask to see the way
My feet will have to tread;
But only that my soul may feed
Upon the living Bread.
‘Tis better far that I should walk
By faith close to His side;
I may not know the way I go, But oh, I know my Guide.

(Refrain)
His love can never fail, His love can never fail,
My soul is satisfied to know His love can never fail.
My soul is satisfied to know His love can never fail.

And if my feet would go astray,
They cannot, for I know
That Jesus guides my falt’ring steps,
As joyfully I go.
And tho’ I may not see His face,
My faith is strong and clear,
That in each hour of sore distress
My Savior will be near.

(Refrain)

I will not fear, tho’ darkness come
Abroad o’er all the land,
If I may only feel the touch
Of His own loving hand.

And tho’ I tremble when I think
How weak I am, and frail,
My soul is satisfied to know
His love can never fail.

(Refrain)

Words: E.S. Hall, Music: Christopher Miner

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Grandma Carr permalink
    February 5, 2010 9:05 pm

    Caroline…What memories you have made me recall! Though the hymn books have disappeared from the back of the pews [the pews have also been replaced by ‘stadium seats’], I still have a “Hymnal For Worship and Celebration”close at hand. Sometimes, during my devotions, I will pull it out and read the precious words and weep. The particular copy I have is the one your Grandpa and I bought in memory of my father E.R. McVay…so that makes it special indeed. Although not as sacred as God’s Word it comes a close second…it is the cry of our redeemed hearts and I am comforted. Love you much…Grandma

  2. Caroline permalink*
    February 10, 2010 10:15 am

    @ Grandma!

    I have one of the hymnals from the old church that I salvaged before FCC changed buildings. I don’t know about anyone else…but I sorta miss the stained glass and pews.

    Love you lots.

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