New Life for Old Hymns

Featuring Paul Baloche Posted on February 1, 2010

Here’s another idea you might pray about. There are literally hundreds of old hymns out there that have fallen out of use because their music and their language have become outdated. We don’t mean the famous hymns, the great old classic ones. We mean hymns you probably wouldn’t know, because they haven’t been sung for decades. But the thoughts, the doctrine, the sentiments they express are timeless. There’s a wealth of thematic ideas there, waiting for someone to express them in new music and new words.

Some of them are lost treasures. With a little research you might find them in musty old hymnals. Might they be waiting for you?

But what about the great old hymns? Hymns such as “A Mighty Fortress,”“Christ the Lord is Risen Today,”“Praise to the Lord, the Almighty,” “Crown Him With Many Crowns,”“When I Survey the Wondrous Cross,” “For All the Saints” and “My Jesus I Love Thee” still speak to us today, even to the young who have never heard them before. Those are a part of the fabric of western civilization, and they live on from generation to generation. Greatness is greatness in any century.

Some might say, “But our church doesn’t use hymns. We have a contemporary praise service, with choruses.” You might be surprised to see how moving some of these hymns can be when set to appropriate new arrangements.

Before you retire an old song, see if there is a way to make it useful. Find a new groove? Try new chord changes? Revise archaic language? This doesn’t mean, of course, that you should take an old hymn and make a doowop song out of it, but we’ve heard some great guitar-driven Praise Band arrangements of old hymns. You may find a way to set an old song to a new arrangement and help it find new life in the church today.