The Nation’s Favourite Hymn

Last Sunday the BBC religious programme Songs of Praise announced the results of its poll to find the nation’s favourite hymn of 2019. The top ten songs chosen by the viewers were:

1. Jerusalem

2. How Great Thou Art

3. In Christ Alone

4. Dear Lord and Father Of Mankind

5. Abide With Me

6. I Vow to Thee My Country

7. Guide Me Oh Thou Great Redeemer

8. Amazing Grace

9. Be Still For The Presence Of The Lord

10. I The Lord Of Sea and Sky

One of the most interesting aspects of this poll is the lack of modern songs. The most recent one is found in third position: In Christ Alone, written in 2001 by Stuart Townend and Keith Getty. I was fully expecting 10,000 Reasons by Matt Redman to feature strongly, but it was not to be. Also I was surprised to see none of Graham Kendrick’s songs in the top ten.

The results of the poll though obviously reflect the demographics of those who watch Songs of Praise. Although I occasionally watch it, I did not personally vote in the poll. The reason being that I did not know of its existence!

Thinking about the poll begs the question: what makes a good hymn? For some a good tune is the most important aspect. Whilst others would give preference to the words. I personally think that the words are the most important ingredient of the hymn, although I would also want a good tune too. There are two main reasons why I would favour the words over the tune:

1. Well written hymns can help teach us theological truths. I have heard it said that Charles Wesley used to write his hymns to help teach theology to people. This was a great way of helping others to remember scriptural truths as not everyone could read the scriptures for themselves during the 18th century. One of the things I like about the songs of Stuart Townend is that they are very rich theologically.

2. Well written hymns can enhance our worship of God. There are times when we might struggle to put into words the greatness of God and our love for Him. This is why the hymn How Great Thou Art is a favourite of mine. The words declare the wonder and greatness of God. Our response to the marvellous truths written in the verses is to worship God with all our soul in the rousing chorus.

Whatever your favourite hymn might be, let the lyrics remind you of the deep truths of God and use them to worship Him in a deep and meaningful way.

Worship is more than singing songs in Church.

Often when I’m discussing a church service I attended I reflect on how I felt the worship went on that particular Sunday. I might say that we sang a couple of my favourite songs. Additionally I could say I really enjoyed the worship or perhaps I struggled to enter into it. Whatever my comment is it’s usually related to the songs that were sung in the service and my enjoyment of them.

Last Sunday at the end of our service we were reminded though that worship is more than singing songs in church. We worship God not just by singing but also by the way we live our lives. Every thought, word and deed forms part of our worship to God.

We worship God by offering our bodies to Him as a living sacrifice whether we are at home, work, study or play.

When we look at worship like that then it should totally change our attitude to it. It’s more than 30 minutes singing our favourite songs each Sunday. In fact it’s a 24/7 lifestyle!

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship (Romans 12:1)