Friday, August 28, 2009

Hymn Stories Wanted

Friday after Pentecost 12
August 28, 2009

The Lord be with you

In 1989 I took a call to Our Redeemer Lutheran (LCMS) in Wilson, NC. One of the parishioners in my new church was in a comma. She could not talk, make eye contact, etc. What was I to do when I visited her? I settled on a simple approach.

I would greet here in the name of the Lord. Then I’d recite portions of the liturgy, the confession of sins and the absolution, the Lord’s Prayer, and the Aaronic Blessing. Then I would sing hymns. I picked older hymns. Hymns I knew she had heard all her life. I didn’t know if anything was “getting through.”

A few months later she died. I’d been to see here a dozen times or so. In speaking with the family they told me something I didn’t expect. It seems when anyone visited “mom” she was always agitated after they left. It didn’t matter if it was a brother or sister, a son or daughter, and grandchild or long time friend, and of course any medical professional. There was one exception. Whenever I visited, a total stranger to her, she was more at peace when I left.

There is only one reason for the peace I was able to bring to that departed saint. It came through the words and tunes of old and trusted hymns, and the familiar words of the liturgy. When nothing else could get through, the grace of God in Christ Jesus penetrated her dark world and brought her peace.

I am now trying to collect stories about how hymns have made a positive impact in the lives of the saints. I do have a few rules.

  1. The stories must be true.
  2. You have to let me share the stories for free.
  3. I want stories about hymns that are in the Lutheran Service Book or its predecessors (Lutheran Worship; The Lutheran Hymnal; Evangelical Lutheran Hymn-Book; Worship Supplement; hymnal supplement 98)
  4. If an alias is used, please indicate that.
  5. Leave your name and a way to contact you so the story can be checked out. (If you register as a follower, that will give me a way to contact you via e-mail and will work fine.)

So, share with me your hymn stories. Just leave them in a comment on this post.

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert


  1. I was asked to post the following comment by Bobby because he was unable. "Better Noise" is often referred to in my Worship Notes post as a way to hear a hymn.

    Every morning at about 6:00 AM, I get a call from a very special friend who doesn't have a computer. The purpose for the call is to hear the lyrics and melody of one of the hymns I just posted (also a little about the hymn writers, if it is interesting). This has been going on for almost a year now. Sometimes we comment on the lyrics, sometimes we say "that was beautiful" (melody), or sometimes we say "that was very Lutheran", or sometimes we say "I liked yesterday's better", or sometimes we comment on a hymn writer - - - Neither of us has any intention of stopping our weekday "mini devotions". Others might try it. According to my friend, "It gets me centered for the day".

    Bobby A
    Better Noises

  2. I was moved closer to God through hymns and through the music of Bach, Mahler and Faure...I could hear God in these works and was drawn to submit to Him. The Holy Spirit also used hymns such as Let All Mortal Flesh Be Silent and Have No Fear, Little Flock to give me a great peace, even when I was struggling with what I believed. Music is a very powerful tool of the Holy Spirit, and there are classical musicians who have come to know Him through the rich music they play.