I was raised in a church where every Sunday morning a gray-haired gentleman would get up and say, "Please take your hymnal and turn with me to hymn number 325. We'll sing stanzas 1, 2 and 4. A Mighty Fortress." My dad eventually became that gray-haired man. Therefore, the singing of hymns and some more than others, is close to my heart and has been a large part of my growing in the faith. Unless you grew up in a similar church (see Gregg's post on a similar topic), this may not mean much.
First, I must say that I remember at Ripley Blvd. Baptist Church, when they purchased a slew of light blue "chorus books". This was the beginning of the turn to what many worship services are today. I must also say that there are many Sunday mornings when the Holy Spirit is faithful and meets me through the singing of a good G, C, D chord progression praise chorus. Rather than focus on the lack of theology in the current worship music or performance standards of today's worship leader, I'll focus this post on the importance of the retention of hymnody.
For the past 350+ years, we have sung a certain type of church music. That music has grown and changed, but stayed mostly to a consistent character. This is where countless generations learned to sing four part harmony. This is where many musicians learned to read music and follow a musical score. Not only that, but there is something to be said for having a consistent worship music that brings a community together. This is what the book of Psalms has been used for for thousands of years. Will we be singing "Shine Jesus Shine" or any of Chris Tomlin's songs even 10 years from now? It is important, simply from a historical standpoint, to include some of these hymns in the current worship music.
Here is a brief list of some of my favorites.
Fanny Crosby--My dad was a HUGE fan.
"All the Way My Savior Leads Me"
"Redeemed, How I Love to Proclaim It"
"Rescue the Perishing"
"Tell Me the Story of Jesus"
"To God Be the Glory"--I remember singing this after many services at Waterford Community Church.
"And Can It Be That I Should Gain?"
"Christ the Lord Is Risen Today"--Did you sing this last Sunday? Me neither.
"O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing"
"What a Friend We Have In Jesus"
"Be Thou My Vision"
"Love Lifted Me"
"Out of the Ivory Palaces"--My mom's favorite hymn
"Great is Thy Faithfulness"
"How Great Thou Art"--I prefer Donna Pollard's version.
The list could definitely go on further, but those are a few. We have tried, as a part of our after dinner ritual, to sing a different hymn every week with the boys. Sometimes I don't think they are getting it, because they usually don't sing along. Yesterday though, I heard Caleb singing "At the cwoss, at the cwoss, da da da da da da da." Keep singing hymns with your family and encouraging your churches to do likewise.