Old Hymns

I grew up singing old hymns. Due to my mom’s severe allergies (and various doctrinal differences), we often found ourselves without a regular church.  When that occurred, mom would sit us down in the living room to either read the scriptures or listen to a sermon on cassette tape. But before that she’d take out an old hymnal and we’d sing every verse of several old hymns a cappella.  When we did go to church, it was usually to either a non-denominational church that sang from hymnals with old gospel quartet-style songs or to a charismatic church which sang worship choruses with words projected on a screen.  Because of this I grew to love all kinds of Christian music.  When I reached High School and College I discovered Christian Rock and Contemporary Christian musicians and quickly left behind the Southern Gospel music that was most frequently listened to as I was growing up. 

When I started attending Second Baptist Church, the Choir and Orchestra was under the direction of Dr Joe Crider.  Dr Joe would often pull out a beautiful old hymn that I hadn’t heard since I was young.  But not long after that, the church added J.P. Kwok to the worship staff.  J.P. is not only an extremely talented song writer, but he had a beautiful ability to resurrect an old hymn, keeping the words and the underlying tune, but often speeding it up a bit or giving it a more modern feel. 

While Dr Joe and J.P. have moved on, the worship band for the 2nd Eleven contemporary service have continued to present these “resurrected hymns” on a fairly regular basis and each time they “introduce” a new one it is like I’m coming home.  The day I heard Ryan Myers and the band perform Glorious Day (Arr by Jeff Johnson) I was really excited.  The backbone of Glorious Day was my favorite childhood hymn, One Day, written by John Wilbur Chapman, a contemporary and associate of D. L. Moody and Billy Sunday in the late 1800’s.

My excitement over the old hymns reached a new level today, though, when I discovered a hymn from the 1700’s set in a delightful new arrangement on a newly released worship album.  I had never heard the hymn before and only discovered it’s history when I went searching for the lyrics of the “new” contemporary song.  The hymn was called Sometimes A Light Surprises and was written by one of the 18th century’s most popular hymnists, William Cowper, with music by none other than the famous “Father of the Symphony”, Joseph Haydn. The new arrangement can be found as track 1 on the fantastic new worship album Achor [ disc | mp3 album ] by Josh White with the new song name He Who Feeds the Raven. 

It turns out that the album name Achor is a reference to the Valley of Achor mentioned 3 times in the Old Testament.  (…as in Hosea 2:15 “..The valley of Achor for a door of hope…” – Door of Hope is the name of Josh White’s church in Portland.) And the Valley of Achor is widely identified as the Wadi Qelt, where runs the Brook Cheroth (Cherith), i.e. where Elijah was fed by the ravens, i.e. my life verse 1 Kings 17:4 and hence the domain name of my blog. Obviously I was very excited by all this and promptly bought the mp3 album on amazon and have been listening to it over and over again ever since.

I suppose I should give credit where credit is due here and mention that I discovered the album Achor thanks to a one week free album preview one one of my favorite websites, NewReleaseTuesday.com  Every week NRT has at least one (and sometimes two) new Christian album releases that you can preview for one week.