I was a bit surprised when I started looking through the archives to see that I have never posted on my top 10 favorite hymns of all time. I have posted on praise bands and the world’s dumbest hymn, but never those which are my favorite. This list is composed of my favorite hymns. I’m not saying that these hymns should be your favorite hymns, but you might agree that there are some good ones. I don’t include praise songs since there are only a few of them that I like and I believe they should stand the test of time before we move them into the “favorite hymn” list. A good hymn should be at least older than I am.
Also, I don’t include Christmas hymns. That is a list unto it’s self, coming to a blog site near you, around Christmas time.
I started on this list more than a week ago and feel I need to break it in two. So here are my Top 5 favorite hymns:
1. Amazing Grace — John Newton really hit this one out of the park when he penned it back in the 1700s. What most people don’t know is that we don’t sing the song to the original tune. It wasn’t until blacks in the south got ahold of the lyrics that we were given the current and most popular tune (according to biographer Jonathan Aitken who wrote, John Newton: From Disgrace to Amazing Grace. A book that all should read). In fact, this hymn wasn’t really sung in Newton’s day. It was one of about 200 hymns that he and William Cowper composed for Newton’s church. (Cowper wrote God Moves in a Mysterious Way).
Here are the Celtic Women doing a wonderful job with this beloved hymn.
2. Be Thou My Vision — Written in the 8th Century, this song not only captures the love of believers for our LORD, but also helps us realize what a great hymn can be. It has united believers since the 8th century until this day singing the same song together. This is one of the reasons we are to use hymns: hymns unite us with those believers who have gone on before us and will come after us. There is a unity found in them. This doesn’t mean that we cannot have new hymns today, but a well written hymn that is singable, true in what it says about the believer and our LORD, is to be held dear by all.
Just a side note: going through these hymns helped me realize that Be Thou My Vision was not in our current hymn book. I was surprised at the editors for leaving this hymn out. That is like leaving out Amazing Grace. I set out to shift to a new hymn book. We can’t have this! Fortunately, the church has been around long enough to have different hymn books to choose from. While there is no perfect hymn book, there are those that are better than others, and the one that are better than others include Be Thou My Vision.
3. Rock of Ages — but not to the tune we all love and know. I do love the traditional tune by the writer of the hymn, Augustus M. Toplady. But my favorite tune is New City Fellowship. Here is a version of it so you can get the idea. Be forewarned, it takes some time to get use to this tune. I remember the first time I heard Rock of Ages with the New City Fellowship tune at Park Cities Presbyterian Church of Dallas back in the 1990s. Like most people, it made me angry. Why couldn’t they just sing the traditional version? But the more familiar I became with the newer tune, the more I liked it.
4. Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing — What a rich hymn full of truth. I love verse three: O to grace how great a debtor, daily I’m constrained to be! Let Thy goodness, like a fetter, bind my wandering heart to Thee: Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, Prone to leave the God I love: Here’s my heart, O take and seal it, Seal it for Thy courts above. What true believer does not realize how much we need our Savior’s hand to keep us from wandering. We are all like sheep who go astray, yet in His love for us, He brings us back to Him.
I have to tell on myself. When I first became a Christian, I learned about this song from a Buddy Greene album I bought and for years, thought he wrote it. He does an excellent job.
5. It Is Well with My Soul — Loved because it captures the sovereignty of God so well. Anyone who has been around the church for any amount of time knows of the heartache and loss that produced this song. Horatio G. Spafford lost his four daughters to shipwreck in the Atlantic and he received a telegram from his wife who survived with the words: “Saved alone.”
When he crossed to the Atlantic to join his wife, he composed the song at the spot where his four daughters died. He can say and sing “it is well” because He is trusting in the sovereign Father in all things.
This list took me a long time to compile. There are so many great hymns, it was hard to narrow it down. While I intended to give you 10, five will have to do for now. What are some of your favorite hymns?