I was overjoyed when we found a Methodist church home here in England. I knew they would sing some good ol’ Charles Wesley hymns. Imagine my surprise when I first opened my mouth to sing one of these great hymns of the faith and the words were all the same but I didn’t recognise the melody. (there are only words in our hymn books no music notation) It was a fairly easy melody and I quickly caught on but I was perplexed.
It turns out that many of our favorite hymns have more than one tune of melody that they are sung to across the world. For example, the children and I had the Hymn “O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing” as our hymn study for homeschool and that hymn alone has seven different melody lines. You could find Christians on each continent, on any given Sunday singing that hymn to a different tune. Each tune has a given name. “O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing” may be sung to any of Lyngham, Oxford New, Arden, Lydia, Richmond, Azmon, or University.
Christmas rolled around and I thought well at least these Christmas Carol Hymns will be the same…… wrong again. I had an amusing time with a friend over here discussing the Christmas hymns. We sang a hymn and I said I knew it to this tune and began singing it, she responded with oh no that is the tune to this song…. We went on and on linking at least five Christmas hymns in chain reaction. My Alabama bible belt world was rocked. I mean isn’t that the tune to “Angels we have heard on High” that the shepherds’ sang at Jesus’ birth???? Who went around changing all these and mixing them up? 🙂
I have realised this year that, no, the world does not revolved around the way things are done in America. As long as there are indeed a “Thousand Tongues” singing heartfelt praise to my (our) Great Redeemer then it really maters not to what tune we sing them. Amen? Assist ME to proclaim and spread though ALL the earth abroad the honors so richly due His glorious name.
O for a thousand tongues to sing
My great Redeemer’s praise,
The glories of my God and King,
The triumphs of His grace!
My gracious Master and my God,
Assist me to proclaim,
To spread through all the earth abroad
The honors of Thy name.
Jesus! the name that charms our fears,
That bids our sorrows cease;
’Tis music in the sinner’s ears,
’Tis life, and health, and peace.
He breaks the power of canceled sin,
He sets the prisoner free;
His blood can make the foulest clean,
His blood availed for me.
He speaks, and, listening to His voice,
New life the dead receive,
The mournful, broken hearts rejoice,
The humble poor believe.
Hear Him, ye deaf; His praise, ye dumb,
Your loosened tongues employ;
Ye blind, behold your Savior come,
And leap, ye lame, for joy.
Singing His Praises,