Sunday, August 23, 2009


I love to sing and I love a lot of church music. When I was in 3-5th grades, we lived in Kansas at Ft. Leavenworth and I was in the Post Chapel choir. I absolutely loved it. Miss Berry was firm, and demanding, but fair. And she challenged us in very creative ways to learn some of the great hymns of the church.

One time she gave us each an old hymnal to take home and then told us there would be a contest. A 'special award' would go to the child who could memorize the most hymns. I can't remember how many I memorized but I do remember discovering, with delight, that most of them rhymed and that Christmas carols (which I knew flawlessly) counted as hymns! I didn't win the prize, but I took into my soul many of the great hymns of Luther, Watts and Fanny Crosby.

Many years later I discovered, again to my delight, that I knew big chunks of Scripture because I knew hymns! Until then, I hadn't realized how much of the hymns were directly from Scripture (okay, I'm slow!). When my husband and I started attending church as newlyweds, the Bible church we attended mostly sang what were called "contemporary" Christian music. It wasn't the old hymns, but I loved the energy and the huge chunks of Scripture that we shared in song.

This isn't to say that I liked all of them. I am somewhat in sympathy with my grandmother on some of them. She calls them the 7-11 hymns. (Sing the same 7 words 11 times). But we are quite fortunate in this area to have an all-Christian music radio station that plays mostly Contemporary Christian music. And I do appreciate it when I hear one of the 'contemporary' hymns from our newlywed days (which are now OLDIES).

All this is leading to a 'new' contemporary arrangement of an old hymn. The hymn is Take My Life and Let It Be. Our old hymnal we keep at home says it was written by Frances Ridley Havergal in 1874.

But recently, Chris Tomlin did a version that changed the tune. I seriously dislike the new version. I have nothing against Chris Tomlin -- I just don't think the hymn needed improvement.

So since I don't like that version, and it's the one we've been singing in church, for about the last several weeks I've been not singing when it's time for that song.

So this morning, I was watching a little mini-drama between a dad and his 7 year old son who were sitting in front of us. While we were singing, the dad was trying to get the boy to stand up (who was on the far side of his mom) and the boy was being obstinate. The dad finally got the boy to come over to him and stand, but there was a tug-of-war of wills going back and forth. At one point the boy returned to the far side of mom and refused to come back. But dad prevailed and the boy eventually came over to him. After a few minutes of dad holding the boy up clasped to his side, the boy relaxed into dad. My thought was, "good, Dad won." And then I realized what part of the song we were singing. Yep, it was the verse about God taking MY will and making it His own. Ouch.

I believe while God was working on that parenting issue through the drama I witnessed, He was also showing me how I behave towards Him sometimes, particularly lately in my not wanting to sing worship and praise to him just because it was the version of the song I don't like.

I still don't like the new version, but from now on when we sing it at church I will try to remember what the whole point of singing in church is. It's not my voice or my joy, it's worship. Period.

I’m putting in videos of the two versions. The first is traditional, the second Chris Tomlin’s. Maybe you'll like his better! And it doesn't really matter which one any of us like better, as long as the focus of the song is to worship God.

Let me know what YOU think!


1 comment:

Quilldancer said...

Oh dear! Did you know there was a third choice? I prefer the way we sing it at the church I attend, which is just a tad bit faster than either of these two sing it. However, of your choices I prefer Chris -- which is interesting because I'm thinking his songs are all sounding pretty much alike any more.