When I was going through a divorce back in 1974 and desperate for God, I attended church one Sunday morning. As I walked through the door, one of my friends from work motioned for me to sit by her. As far as she knew, I hadn’t ever gone to church, so I knew she was surprised and questioning.
I shared her hymnal when we stood for congregational singing and sang each song, barely looking at the words. After the service was dismissed, she told me how glad she was that I had come that morning and then she said, “I just have one question. Why do you know all the words to the songs?” I was caught. I had been trying so hard not to be that little girl who was raised in church, but in times of trouble, the words to the songs came back to me.
Start singing Amazing Grace in a crowded bar and before long, you will have every drunk in the place crying in their beer. They learned that song in Sunday School or Vacation Bible school, taken by a grandmother or aunt that wanted them to experience the songs and stories of the Bible. it is the most recorded song of all time.
But now we have a new generation who don’t know the words of the hymns by heart. Many of this generation have never been in Sunday school or Vacation Bible school. They don’t know the words to Amazing Grace or Blessed Assurance or Onward Christian Soldiers.
I love the new music that is being used in most churches, including ours. The songs with the Word of God in them resonate and burn themselves into our hearts. I love to sing songs that cause me to look to the Lord and worship Him, but time will only tell if those songs become the classics which are sung around the world in every language. A classic must be singable, without words and music to go by.
We won’t have to try to memorize them; we will sing them by heart, because the true classic song speaks to our hearts.