Monday, May 19, 2014

The old hymns

One side benefit to these past few months of babysitting is that I love to rock babies and sing them to sleep.  For some reason, the songs that come to mind when I'm singing to a baby are the old hymns.  I don't think about what I'm going to sing next, they just come to mind as quickly as I need them, flowing easily, one to the next, from the wellspring of my past.

"Tell it to Jesus" is one I sing almost every time:  
"Do you fear the gath'ring clouds of sorrow?  Tell it to Jesus, tell it to Jesus.
Are you anxious what will be tomorrow?  Tell it to Jesus alone."
The songs are so full of comfort and meaning, with roots deep in the past.  This one, for instance, was translated from German to English in 1880.  At least three generations of my family probably sang this song before I came along.  

And then there's this well-loved hymn, "What a Friend We Have in Jesus".  
"Have we trials and temptations?  Is there trouble anywhere?  We should never be discouraged; take it to the Lord in prayer."  It was written in 1855 by Joseph Scriven to comfort his mother, across the sea in Ireland.

Another song I sang today, "Does Jesus Care" (1901) helped put the baby to sleep.  "Oh yes, He cares.  I know He cares; His heart is touched with my grief.  When the days are weary, the long nights dreary, I know my Savior cares."     

I thought of one song that I didn't sing today because I don't remember a lot of the words (and I never cared for the tune):  "Did You Think to Pray" (1876).  Although the tune didn't pass my likability test as a child, the words certainly speak to me as an adult:  "Oh, how praying rests the weary.  Prayer will change the night to day.  So when life seems dark and dreary, Don't forget to pray."  

Every verse of every one of the old hymns preaches a sermon.  It took Cora a little while to get sleepy this morning, and by the time she was ready for bed, I had pretty much had my own personal revival.  If you aren't familiar with these old hymns, click on the links (the title of each song is also a link) to read the words.  They are a balm to the soul.


Nance In CA. said...

I couldn't agree more. Music is truly a spirit lifter. Especially the music inspired by God, written by those who HE spoke to, to write it. I don't know what I would do without my 'favorites'. They never cease to lift me up. Enjoyed seeing these old familiar titles in your blog, Donna. Thanks.

Jon said...

This is an incredibly positive way to bond with your grandchild. She's still extremely young, but these moments will be remembered by her - at least subconsciously.
Music is such a powerful reinforcement. I remember my grandmother singing to me.

Donna said...

Jon, she isn't actually a grandchild, but the feelings we have for her are the same as if she were.

Barbara In Caneyhead said...

I know two of them. I personally favor Fanny Crosby hymns. I like to sing hymns while I'm doing the dishes. He Keeps Me Singing is one I do a lot.

Margaret said...

What a lovely way to sooth Cora to sleep and also sooth your own soul!


I like the way you refer to singing the hymns as your own personal revival. A lovely way to look at it.

MissKris said...

I used to sing "Wonderful Words of Life" and "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" to my grandbabies as they were being rocked to sleep. Knocked them out every time...such peaceful music.

Sister--Three said...

I love the Fannie Crosby hymns. Sing some of them to lift my soul today, Donna. She was blind, but a great song writer and piano player.