Not surprisingly, as your church organist, I love singing and playing hymns! I love the feeling of leading us all in one voice as we lift our songs to God together. Combine that feeling with a beautiful or stirring melody and a meaningful text, and I am hard put to find anything better. It is the part of the service that brings me closest to the heart of God.
There have been many times where I have been struck dumb by the text of a hymn, that, sung in a particular context, suddenly springs to life in a new and powerful way. Two times that happened readily come to mind, and are very dear to me. The first happened during our wedding, as we sang Praise Ye the Lord, the Almighty. I particularly wanted that hymn because of its expression of thanksgiving. But in the ceremony, when we sang the line Hast thou not seen how thy desires e’er have been granted in what He ordaineth, I was moved to tears by the powerful truth of those words in the service where Holt and I were being united as husband and wife.
Secondly, almost three years ago now, when my father died in December, my siblings and I were thinking together about music for his funeral service, which was to take place on, of all days, Christmas Eve. We all agreed we should look for one Christmas hymn to sing, along with the others we had chosen. Immediately I thought of Once in Royal David’s City, because it has always been a favorite of mine.
Looking up the text, I read the words, And our eyes at last shall see Him, through His own redeeming love…and He leads His children on to the place where He is gone. I had sung that hymn hundreds of times, but suddenly those words of comfort belonged to me. Each time we sing it at Christmas, I am moved in a new way with thanksgiving, that God’s incarnation in Jesus Christ will lead me and all of us to the place where He has gone. Thanks be to God!
About the Contributor
Marcia Andrews has been the organist at FPC for 25 years. She is also assistant director of music.