Classic Old Hymns For Today’s Problems

If you are under the age of 35, you probably don’t remember the days when the person at the front of the church said, “Turn in your hymnals to page 402.” You may not even know what  Christian hymns or hymnals are. 

Hymns are spiritual songs or poems of praise to God. Many of the old hymns are in the process of being revived with a new melody due to the great theology and truths found in them.

Let’s take a trip down memory lane and learn how Christian lyrics to the best old hymns have answers for today’s problems.

Are today’s problems different from the past?

I would venture to say that the problems we face today are pretty much what everyone down through the ages has faced.

True, we have different technologies, governments, and jobs, but the feelings associated with these are still the same. We all experience grief, insecurities, fear, sorrow, and a need for hope in our lives.

That is why old hymns have stood the test of time because they still can speak to us today, even though they were written 100 or more years ago.

Best Old hymns for today’s problems

Lyrics of hymns are a treasure for a Christian’s daily devotions. Many contain rich theology. Along with Bible reading, looking at the hymn text found in old collections or on the internet can bolster our faith.

Few of us, if any, will escape losing a loved one to death. One of the great promises of God is that when we belong to Him, we will see our loved ones again. Furthermore, we get to be with Jesus for eternity. 

In The Sweet By And By

“In the sweet by and by, we shall meet on that beautiful shore.”  

These words were written by Filmore Bennett, and set to music by Joseph P. Webster in 1868. 

 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep (are dead), that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep.  … For the Lord himself will descend from heaven … And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words.” 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 ESV (explanation added)

It Is Well With My Soul

This is one of the most popular hymns from days gone by. 

Have you ever watched ocean waves? They rise and fall, over and over again.

When we have lost someone we love, the feelings of grief rise and fall much like waves. We can feel almost fine one moment and the next feel like we are drowning in the wave of sorrow.

That is what the writer of It Is Well With My Soul experienced. I can’t imagine the amount of grief Horatio G. Spafford must have felt when he learned that all his children died at sea.

But God was with him and he knew that God is the healer of broken hearts. He also knew that God could see the bigger picture and would somehow bring good from this horrible situation.

Consequently, in 1873 he penned these words to the first line of the song.

“When peace like a river attendeth my way, When sorrows like sea-billows roll; Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say, ‘It is well, it is well with my soul. ”

These words mirror what we find in the Scripture reference Romans 8:28.

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” ESV

With this kind of assurance, we can confidently say, “No matter what happens, I will be OK because God is working things out for my good and His glory.”

If you have never heard this song, you can listen to it on YouTube, Spotify, or Pandora.

We live in a fallen world where current events can strike fear and much dread in people’s hearts. But this is nothing new. There has been turmoil, wars, and rumors of wars for centuries.

What is a person supposed to hang onto when the world seems to be falling apart?

He Lives

I serve a risen Savior, He’s in the world today; I know that He is living, whatever men may say; … You ask me how I know He lives? He lives within my heart.” (From He Lives, by Homer A Rodheaver, 1933)

Why does the knowledge that Jesus is alive bring us security in an insecure world?

As Christians, we have a future beyond this world. We also have help for whatever challenges we face today.

To listen to “He Lives”, go to YouTube.

Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus

“O soul are you weary and troubled, no light in the darkness you see … Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face. And the things of earth will grow strangely dim …”

Originally called “The Heavenly Vision,” this song was written in 1922 by Helen Howarth Lemmel, and is based on the Bible verse Isaiah 45:22.

“Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other.” ESV

When the world is falling apart, focusing on the name of Jesus makes the worst things grow dim in comparison. 

Savior Like A Shepherd Lead Us

“Savior, like a shepherd lead us, much we need thy tender care …” 

These old hymn lyrics were written by Dorothy Ann Thrupp in 1836, and set to music by William B. Bradbury a little later. It is based on the Bible verse Isaiah 40:11.

“He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms … ” ESV

Sheep are quite helpless on their own and are afraid of almost everything. We too have many fears and need the Lord to gently lead us when we don’t know what to do or where to go. 

“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul …” Psalm 23:1-3 ESV

Sweet Hour Of Prayer

One of the great blessings of prayer is that it helps develop a closer walk with God through the power of Jesus’ name.  

“Sweet hour of prayer! Sweet hour of prayer that calls us from a world of care. And bids me at my Father’s throne make all my wants and wishes known. In Seasons of distress and grief, my soul has often found relief. And oft escaped the tempter’s snare by thy return, sweet hour of prayer!”

These old hymn lyrics were written by William B. Bradbury in 1845. 

Old Gospel hymn lyrics to restore hope

Do the details of your life seem overwhelming and nearly impossible? We need hope when we feel this way.

Scripture tells us that God can be seen in nature. When we grasp this we begin to see how dependable He is and that the things that weight us down are something we can give to Him.

This is my Father’s World

This is my Father’s world, And to my listening ears, all nature sings, and round me rings the music of the spheres. This is my Father’s world, He shines in all that’s fair; In the rustling grass I hear Him pass, He speaks to me eveywhere.”

If you have never looked for God’s fingerprints in nature, you have missed out on a wonderful experience.

We can learn so much about God from the world that He created. As we look closer we will realize that the God of so much detail can be trusted with the details of our lives.

This old gospel song mirrors many passages of Scripture. You can listen to it here.

All Creatures Of Our God And King

“All creatures of our God and king lift up your voice and with us sing … Thou silver moon with softer gleam … Thou rushing wind … Ye clouds … Thou flowing water pure and clear… Make music for the Lord to hear …” 

The poem was written in 1225 by St. Francis of Assisi. It wasn’t until 1919 that it was set to music and published by William Henry Draper. It is based on Psalm 148. You can find the full lyrics here. 

Many of us have experienced unfaithfulness from spouses who left us, parents who abandoned us, or employers who broke promises, to name a few.

Our God is quite the opposite. He is faithful when others are not. This is good news that we can count on.

Great Is Thy Faithfulness

” Great is thy faithfulness, O God my Father … Thou changest not, Thy compassions they fail not … All I have needed Thy hand hath provided, Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord unto me!”

This song was written in 1923 by W.M. Runyan. It reflects many Scriptures that talk about how faithful God is to us. 

“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22-23 ESV

A Mighty Fortress Is Our God

A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing.”

Praise the Lord that he never fails us!!!

This old hymn was written in the early 1500s by Martin Luther. It has been translated into many languages and is based on Psalm 46.

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling.” ESV

Showers of blessings

This song was written in 1883 by Daniel Webster and acknowledges that all blessings come from the Lord God Almighty. 

There shall be showers of blessing.  This is the promise of love. There shall be seasons refreshing, sent from the Savior above.”

Of course to enjoy all of God’s blessings, we must be in a relationship with Him and living for Him. 

Another song about the origin of our blessings is “Come Thou Fount Of Every Blessing.” 

Because of the cross of Jesus, we can be sure of our salvation. We could not ever earn our way to heaven, but Jesus made it possible. Our part is to accept His gift and follow Him. 

Blessed Assurance

“Blessed Assurance” was penned by one of the prolific hymn writers, Fanny J. Crosby, in 1873. It has been a source of comfort for many.

When we belong to Jesus we have the hope of heaven and eternity with Him. We also have the assurance of His presence today. Matthew West has recorded it with a modern tagline.

Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine! O, what a foretaste of glory divine! Heir of salvation, purchase of God, Born of His Spirit, washed in HIs blood. This is my story, this is my song, Praising my Savior all the day long.”

The Solid Rock

Originally titled “My Hope Is Built On Nothing Less,” this song was penned by Edward Mote in 1834 and set to music by William B. Bradbury in 1836. 

“My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus Blood and righteousness. I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus’ name. On Christ the solid rock I stand. All other ground is sinking sand.” 

Do you know The Solid Rock

Old hymn lyrics made new

For some time, old hymns were left behind. There was something about a “new song” that enamored the crowds. 

More recently, modern artists have started bringing back the best old hymns of the faith with today’s interpretations.

Chris Tomlin recorded the song Amazing Grace, using the traditional melody and words, but also adding a segment that makes this song so powerful.

“Amazing grace how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now am found. Was blind but now I see.”

“My chains are gone, I’ve been set free. My God my Saviour has ransomed me. And like a flood, His mercy reigns, unending love, amazing grace.”

The word picture of someone in chains perfectly describes how sin is our captor. What a blessing to know that Jesus Christ has set us free. We are no longer slaves to sin.

Adding “My Chains Are Gone” to this old gospel hymn was a really nice modernization that many are loving.

“Amazing Grace” was written by John Newton in 1772 and published in 1779. It was set to music about 60 years later.

The Wonderful Cross

This is a remake of “When I Survey The Wondrous Cross“. It has been recorded by several Christian musicians, but my favorite is by Michael W. Smith.

Photo of Michael W. Smiths album that includes "the wonderful cross", a remake of the old hymn "When I survey the wondrous cross."

“When I survey the wondrous cross on which the Prince of Glory died, My richest gain I count but loss, and pour contempt on all my pride. Were the whole realm of nature mine, that were a present far too small: Love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all.

“Oh the wonderful cross … all who gather here by grace draw near and bless your name.”

“When I survey the Wondrous Cross” was written by Isaac Watts and published in 1707. Now that is an old hymn!

Matt Redman has made a great remake of this favorite old hymn of the faith. While most of the song is new, the most important line and melody of the old hymn remains.

” … Now every battle still to come, let this be our song, It is well with my soul … Now every blessing still to come, let this be our song, It is well with my soul.”

Final thoughts

I really like this wall art from Michael Savory Shop. It says, “I still believe in Amazing Grace, that there is Power in the Blood, that He walks with me and He talks with me, that Because He lives I can face tomorrow, all because of The Old Rugged Cross.” (1)

The bold and italicized words are titles or words to some favorite old hymns of the faith. You will find a link below to this wall art, along with a book of devotionals based on many old hymns.

Whether you grew up singing old hymns or not, you will find encouragement in their words. Many are Scripture-based, with answers to problems and feelings we face today.

Old Gospel hymns are treasures just waiting to be found.

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