Monday, June 25, 2007

...These are a few of my favorite hymns...

Julie Andrews was once in a musical called "The Sound of Music." You may have heard of it. It is a story of love, and singing, and mountains, and nannying, and nuns, and Nazis--really, it contains every topic imaginable. Except monkeys on rollerskates, which definitely would have added another dimension to the story. Especially if these monkeys smoked and drank, and came from the wrong side of the tracks, but had a redemptive encounter with the famous singing Von Trapp family, who then recruited the monkeys to help keep the Nazis out of beautiful Austria. Supposedly, one chimpanzee has the strength of ten men, and on roller skates they could easily double their speed.

I digress.

Anyway, I basically wrote the song, "My Favorite Things." Oscar Hammerstein didn't know it at the time, but he was pre-plagiarizing all the lyrics from my pre-prenatal self. Think about it. "Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens; Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens." And, "Girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes; Snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes; Silver white winters that melt into springs; These are a few of my favorite things." I have seen a rose. I had a cat at home, and I even kind of miss her. Don't even get me started on mittens. And girls? Who doesn't like girls. I know I do.

But for whatever reason, the line, "These are a few of my favorite things", just reminded me of some of the greatest verses from my favorite hymns. I have a soft spot in my heart for hymns. While others may cringe at the somewhat archaic language, I embrace it. Hymns speak of the deepest truths of the Christian faith in the most beautiful and poetic ways, while many modern songs communicate through vulgar expressions that make it sound like God is your girlfriend and you're just saying a bunch of cliché 'I love yous' in the hopes of making out. Yes, I'm overexaggerating. Most modern worship songs aren't really that bad...maybe...probably...okay, you got me--I sing them when I'm in the shower or when nobody is around. But I really, really, really love hymns. Maybe not as much as girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes, but I love them nonetheless. So here are a few of my favorite verses from my favorite hymns.

"Not what my hands have done
Can save my guilty soul;
Not what my toiling flesh has borne
Can make my spirit whole.
Not what I feel or do
Can give me peace with God;
Not all my prayers,
And sighs and tears
Can bear my awful load.

Thy grace alone, O God,
To me can pardon speak;
Thy power alone O Son of God,
Can this sore bondage break.
No other work, save Thine,
No other blood will do,
No strength save that,
Which is divine,
Can bear me safely through."

"Let us wonder grace and justice
Join and point to mercy’s store
When through grace in Christ our trust is
Justice smiles and asks no more
He Who washed us with His blood
He Who washed us with His blood
He Who washed us with His blood
Has secured our way to God."

"1. I asked the Lord that I might grow
In faith and love and every grace
Might more of His salvation know
And seek more earnestly His face

2. Twas He who taught me thus to pray
And He I trust has answered prayer
But it has been in such a way
As almost drove me to despair

3. I hoped that in some favored hour
At once He'd answer my request
And by His love's constraining power
Subdue my sins and give me rest

4. Instead of this He made me feel
The hidden evils of my heart
And let the angry powers of Hell
Assault my soul in every part

5. Yea more with His own hand He seemed
Intent to aggravate my woe
Crossed all the fair designs I schemed,
Cast out my feelings, laid me low

6. Lord why is this, I trembling cried
Wilt Thou pursue thy worm to death?
'Tis in this way' The Lord replied
'I answer prayer for grace and faith'

7. 'These inward trials I employ
From self and pride to set thee free
And break thy schemes of earthly joy
That thou mayest seek thy all in me,
That thou mayest seek thy all in me.'”

"He saw me plunged in deep distress
He fled to my relief
For me He bore the shameful cross
And carried all my grief
His hand a thousand blessings pours
Upon my guilty head
His presence gilds my darkest hours
And guards my sleeping bed

Since from His bounty I receive
Such proofs of love divine
Had I a thousand hearts to give
Lord, they should all be Thine
A thousand men could not compose
A worthy song to bring
Yet Your love is a melody
Our hearts can’t help but sing!"

Amen. I don't even know if Jonathan Edwards could have said it better himself. And it should be obvious what I'm thankful for today--not only are these songs beautiful, but they are true!

Oh yeah, and, "Cream colored ponies and crisp apple streudels; Doorbells and sleigh bells and schnitzel with noodles; Wild geese that fly with the moon on their wings; These are a few of my favorite things."

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