Within the past two decades there has been a major shift in music styles in Church Worship services. In many churches praise teams, choruses and praise songs with keyboards, guitars, and drums, have replaced the traditional hymns, choir, pipe organ and piano. The focus of these dramatic changes is to reach those who are considered unchurched in our community.

Yet, in the midst of these changes, there is a concern  that  we retain the important role of hymnology in our worship experience.  Many of the hymns have been around for hundreds of years having been passed down from generation to generation.  They have stories of faith in the midst of grief, loss, pain and suffering.  The messages they convey remain relevant today.

"The richness and depth of hymns has and is playing an important role in the Kingdom of God," says Steve Osborne, pastor of the Vineyard of Licking County, Newark, OH.  "Hymns became the icons of our faith because of the realness of the theology as well as the experiences with God that they contain."

Osborne reflects on his past spiritual life, in  the  traditional  worship experience. "I love hymns. My heart is stirred with spiritual excitement because I grew up hearing the songs of faith and they have become an anchor in my life.  For those who have grown up with meaningful hymns of our faith there is a stability and reservoir of spiritual vitality uncommon in our generation. "

"I'm speaking from my heart," Osborne concludes.  "I love psalms. I love hymns.  I love spiritual songs.  Oftentimes hymns are rich in talking about God."

The Psalmist declared,
“God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in trouble.” (Psalm 46:1)

H. G. Spafford, in the 19th Century, penned a hymn that has stood the test of time and still speaks to hearts today.  He was a successful attorney and active member in his church in Chicago.

Then, a series of calamities began; starting with the great Chicago fire of 1871 which wiped out his family's extensive real estate investments. When D. L. Moody left for Great Britain for an evangelistic campaign, Spafford decided to take his family on a vacation to Europe.  He also planned to assist in Moody's meetings in Great Britain.

Spafford was detained in Chicago by urgent business, but he sent his wife and four daughters as scheduled on the SS Ville du Harve, planning to join them soon.  Halfway across the Atlantic, the ship was struck by an English vessel and sank in twelve minutes.  All four of the Spafford daughters, Tanetta, Maggie, Annie and Bessie, were among those who drowned.  Mrs. Spafford was among the few who were miraculously saved.

Spafford stood hour after hour on the deck of the ship carrying him to rejoin his sorrowing wife in Cardiff, Wales.  When the ship passed the approximate place where his precious daughters had drowned, Spafford received sustaining comfort from God.  He was inspired to write one of our cherished hymns, which contains a powerful picture of hope for the future!

    When peace like a river attendeth my way, 
    When sorrows, like sea billows roll. 
    Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,

    Tho Satan should buffet, tho trials should come,
    Let this blest assurance control,
    That Christ hath regarded my helpless estate
    And has shed His own blood for my soul.

    And, Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
    The clouds be rolled back as a scroll:
    The trump shall resound and the Lord shall descend,
    ‘Even so’ - IT IS WELL WITH MY SOUL!

(Excerpts taken from Amazing Grace, 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions, Kenneth W. Osbeck, Kregel Publications, Grand Rapids, MI, p. 202)
(Excerpts taken from a column originally written by David L. Cowles and published in the “Your Faith” section of the Newark Advocate, OH)