Hymnal Thoughts

Before now, I have been hesitant to state which is my favorite Christmas hymn, and honestly, that is because I couldn’t decide. But now I have an answer. Definitely have an answer.

As I drove around through the cold January air, the rain falling in sheets and the sky a slate grey blanket above me, my car was full of warmth. Yes, I was listening to Christmas music in January, plainly breaking the family “rule” about no Christmas music until after Thanksgiving. (When I am alone in my car and no Doc McStuffins soundtrack is being requested, I shall listen to what feeds my soul, thank you very much!) This song came on and stayed on repeat for most of the rest of my errand trip. I couldn’t get enough of hearing it, of singing it, of feeling it.

Without a doubt, “The First Noel” is my favorite Christmas hymn. There is no song that elicits that sense of thrumming anticipation and elation that the season embodies like it. No song that fills my soul to the brim and overflowing with that peaceful expectation, that serene joy that is all that Christmas means to me. It feels like song reaches into every part of my soul, flooding it with warmth and the desire to see light and love and hope everywhere, to see with my heart rather than just my eyes.

I want to keep that song, keep its core, its joy, anticipation, and watchful spirit alive in my life all the year through, not just Christmas. I want it to echo in my heart and in my life and spread out to others in the way I live each and every day.

PS. Thank you to my music teachers all through school for teaching me how to find and carry a part in a choral arrangement! I cannot tell you the joy I had finding that I could still sing along well enough to enjoy vocalizing along to this wonderful group of vocalists in their beautiful rendition.

What My Voice Was Made For

I love to sing. Love to sing. I croon lullabies to soothe minds and tears. I will belt musicals in the car. I will sing Glee duets with my husband and mingle our voice as we have mingled our lives. On Sunday, though, as I stood and sang in worship service, I came to a realization: my voice was made for hymns.

I grew up in the Wesleyan Holiness Church and have sung hymns my entire life and have most of them memorized. I have sung them, played them on the piano and flute, translated them, and written about them for English assignments. My voice was made for the soaring triumphs of hymns like “I Will Praise Him”, the broken need of “Fill My Cup, Lord”, and the deep remembrance of “Man of Sorrows”. My voice was made for hymns and it makes my heart soar to sing them. It reminds me of the lessons I learned of Jesus as a young woman, of sweet moments of God’s comfort and help, moments of brokenness and revelation.

My husband says frequently that one of the things that spurred his love for me was when he took me to his home church for the first time and I knew every hymn that was sung by heart. TO him, it was a reminder that I understood his past, his upbringing, that I knew how much it meant to him. I understood his life, and knew what it would mean for me to be part of it, to share in it.

As a child, the hymn “Jesus Loves Me” was my lullaby, sung and hummed to me by my mother every night. It soothed my soul and my heart at the end of each day. It also was the first song I ever sang to my daughter, becoming her main lullaby as well. I hummed it into the tiny body that laid on my chest, murmured it through exhausted tears, sang it through smiling lips at the sight of a peacefully sleeping infant in my arms.

There are days when I find myself singing hymns while I stand at the sink washing dishes or folding clothes, and I just smile. They are what my voice was made for – for praise and blessings, for intercession and brokenness, for joy and gratitude. Of all the songs I shall ever sing, these will forever remain the closest, for they bolster my heart and my faith through every season of life.