Sunday Salon: Ramblings and a Hymn Project

I haven’t had time to go through the Saturday Review this week and find all the books I’m interested in adding to my TBR list. My list is already so long that I may very well have to finish it in heaven because the Lord doesn’t give anyone that much time here on earth.

Anyway, I ‘m reading Bret Lott’s latest novel, published in 2008, Ancient Highway. I loved Jewel by this same author, and I liked A Song I Knew By Heart, also by Mr. Lott. But I’m over halfway through Ancient Highway, and so far it hasn’t captured me. I’m distracted and not sure where the book is going or why it’s going there.

So, this morning in church while listening attentively to the sermon, and even taking some notes in my Bible, I thought up a new project. I get some of my best thinking done during church. My excuse is that I can listen faster than my pastor can preach, so I have time left over to think. And I like projects. At least, I like thinking them up. Sometimes I’m a little bit lacking in the follow-through.

At any rate, inspired by Fuse #8’s Top 100 Picture Book Poll, which I enjoyed immensely and would recommend as a beginning reading list of picture books to accompany my Picture Book Preschool, I thought a Top 100 Hymns Poll would be a great summer project. I might learn something and be encouraged in my own worship. You might learn some new hymns or be reminded of some oldies. We all might enjoy visiting and re-visiting the hymns of the faith together.

Here’s how I think this poll/journey is going to work (I stole some of the rules from Fuse #8):

1. Make a list of your top ten hymns of all time.
Hymn (according to Webster): a song of praise to God
a metrical composition adapted for singing in a religious service.

For the purposes of this poll, I’m limiting the choices to Christian hymns, but the form of the song doesn’t matter. In other words, the songs on your list should be suitable for congregational singing and should be Christian. Handel’s Messiah is Christian but probably not suitable for congregational hymn singing. Anything you sing in worship service, even what are normally called choruses or gospel songs or spirituals or CCM, is fine. (Oh, English, please, or at least translated into English. Sorry, but it’s all I really speak.)

2. List these hymns in your order of preference. So your #1 hymn would be the one you feel is the best, and so on. I will be giving your first choice 10 points, your second choice 9 points, and so on.

3. Submit your list to me at sherryDOTearlyATgmailDOTcom. Write “Hymn Survey” in the subject line. I’d rather you didn’t leave your votes in my comments here because it’ll be easier to tabulate all the votes if they’re all in my email (plus I want everyone’s votes to be a surprise). Deadline for votes to be sent to me is May 31, 2009.

4. If you like, you can submit a justification for each hymn. Or you can send me a link to an audio or video version online. Include the name of the hymn’s author or lyricist and the composer of the melody you prefer if at all possible, especially if you think I might be unfamiliar with your particular hymn. At the beginning of June I will tally up the totals, and I will pull from the submitted pieces why one reader or another liked a particular hymn (naming the reader, of course). That way we’ll be able to hear from a whole bunch of people why they love one hymn or another. I will then count down from 100 to 1 over the course of the summer the top choices of what folks feel the best hymns of all time are.

I’m also going to talk to someone at my church to see if we can sing a lot of these favorites this summer in our worship services. As many of you know, churches get caught in ruts where they sing the same hymns over and over. I think singing some of the favorite hymns of the faith, even some that we may not have sung in many years, would do us good. By the way, I’m not any kind of expert on music or hymns, but I’ll bet I’ll be a lot more knowledgeable about both by the end of the summer.

Thanks in advance for your votes/nominations. I’m going to enjoy this little exercise, and I hope you will, too.

Oh, and if you don’t mind, I would appreciate your publicizing this poll on your blog. I’d like to get at least 100 nominations or lists for this survey; more would be even better. If you want to post your top ten list on your blog, that’s fine. Just be sure you send me a copy.

7 thoughts on “Sunday Salon: Ramblings and a Hymn Project

  1. How should I handle the issue of alternative tunes? A hymn is by definition a text in the first place, but a text to be sung, and many if not most hymns are closely tied to a particular melody. But there are some that are not linked to tunes that way, and there are a few very well known and widely sung hymns which have two or even three very well known and widely competing tunes. Among those that Inquirer listed, the most outstanding case is “All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name”, which is probably most often sung, at least in the USA, to Oliver Holden’s Coronation, but in the Commonwealth probably more often to Miles Lane, and perhaps by choirs more often to Diadem. “Jesus, Lover of My Soul” is great to Aberystwyth, and great to Martyn and, I don’t doubt, great to Refuge as well, but is it one hymn or three in the list? If I want to vote for “O for a Thousand Tongues” but only if sung to Lyngham, not the usual Azmon or any of the other half dozen other tunes I’ve seen it set to, can I stipulate that, and will “O for a Thousand Tongues” votes that don’t specify their tunes then, by default, count as much towards my candidate as towards the normal one?

    Sorry about all the preliminary verbiage. I’ll send in a list next week even if you don’t make the rules on this point explicit.

  2. Ummmm . . . Leland, no to your last question, I think. Here’s what I’m saying, making it up as I go along. Vote for the text not the tune. All votes for All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name, for instance, will be counted together. If you have a tune preference, tell me in your email and when I post about that hymn, if it makes the Top 100, I’ll be sure to mention the different tunes and who said they liked what.

  3. Ha! I do some of my best thinking during sermons too! And my pastor preaches really good sermons. I’ve been gone this past week, but you have me salivating and sweating simultaneously. How will I pick ten? How will I prioritize? Ah, this will be some good and fruitful work. GREAT PROJECT!

  4. Hi Sherry, I’m trying to access your Saturday Review of March 16. When I scroll down to the bottom-most part of your opening page there is nothing to click for previous entries. Is there a way to access archived posts?

  5. My list is in your email.

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