By Ruth DuCharme
Singing hymns comes naturally to me. They tend to flow easily from within me, and I often sing them with great passion. As a college freshman, I can remember attending a Sunday evening worship service at First Baptist Church Forsyth with my roommate, Angela. Now Angela wasn't much of a church-goer, and her experiences with Baptist worship, and in particular Baptist singing, were limited. As we launched into singing the hymns on that evening, I began to sing with my usual fervor. Out of the corner of my eye, I began to see Angela's shoulders shrink and her face turn red. She looked at me and said, "You're singing too loud!"
I looked around me and no one else seemed to be bothered by the volume of my singing, as a matter of fact, most of the people in that sanctuary were singing with the same amount of gusto. Angela wasn't used to the power of hymns. She wasn't used to the emotions that come when words like, "Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine" well up from within your heart. Those hymns hadn't been a part of her liturgy growing up.
From my childhood, hymns have been a part of my life. Some of my earliest memories of worship are of singing hymns. I learned to read music by watching the notes and text flow by as my mom or dad used their finger to guide my way along the page. I learned a lot of my theology from the text of great lyricists such as Fanny Crosby and Charles Wesley. I learned about the beauty of melody and rhythm from composers like Ralph Vaughn Williams and William Bradbury. Hymns have been a part of my life from as far back as I can remember, and I am grateful.
I have some beautiful memories of singing particular hymns at particular places and on particular occasions. I remember the way that I felt being in the chapel at Southern Seminary and standing with my fellow seminarians as we sang together "We've a Story to Tell to the Nations." I will always cherish the memories of singing "Joy to the World" as we exit our sanctuary each Christmas Eve. I will always remember the singing of "The Servant Song" at my ordination service.
In many ways, I am a timid person - a bit of an introvert, but when I sing, there is a joy and a grace that lifts me beyond that. I do tend to sing hymns at full volume and with deep emotion, and why not, they are the vehicle that helps me give voice to my praise of God. They are my expressions of faith, and I will continue to sing them with gusto!