If you are under the age of 30, 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 a hymn or hymnal is. A hymn is a religious song or poem of praise to God. Many of the old hymns are in the process of being revived and modernized due to the great truths found in them.
Let’s take a trip down memory lane and learn how words 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 can still speak to us today, even though they were written 100 or more years ago.
Best Old hymns for today’s problems
Old hymn lyrics are a treasure for a Christian’s daily devotions. Many favorite old hymns are rich in Scripture. Along with Bible reading, looking at the words of songs in a hymnal can bolster our faith.
Old hymns for grief
“When sorrows like sea billows roll”. (From It Is Well With My Soul)
Have you ever sat by the ocean watching the 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, he penned these words in 1873.
“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 Scripture where it says,
“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called acording to his purpose.” Romans 8:28 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.
Old hymns for fear and insecurity
We live in a fallen world where current events can strike fear 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?
“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.
Old Gospel hymns to restore hope
God’s presence in nature
“This is my Father’s world, And to my listning ears, all nature sings, and round me rings the music of the spheres. This is my Father’s world, He shine 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. And 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 hymn mirrors many passages of Scripture. You can listen to it 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. We can count on it.
” 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!”
“Great Is Thy Faithfulness” was written in 1923 by W.M. Runyan.
Assurance of Salvation through Jesus
“Blessed Assurance” was written by Fanny J. Crosby in 1873. It has been a source of hope and 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.”
Old hymns made new
For some time, old hymns were left behind for new songs. More recently, modern artists have started to bring back the best old hymns of the faith with today’s interpretations.
Amazing Grace, My Chains Are Gone
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 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.
“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!
It Is Well With My Soul
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.”
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.
You might also like to read:
- How to find hope through Christian music
- Feeling on edge about current events? How to cope
- Enjoy nature, connect with God