Funny enough, as I get older music seems to becoming more and more important to me. But I don’t think that’s because my tastes are changing; I think it’s because I’m coming to see more and more the power of what music can do in and to us.
Music, specifically Christian hymns, it seems to me, has the unique capacity to reach us at an emotional level that few things do. And when you combine a beautiful tune with rich, God-honoring lyrics, music becomes not only something to listen to in order to pass the time; it becomes something we can actually look to in order to preach the gospel to ourselves day in and day out.
It’s no wonder, then, that scholars tell us that one of the most rich passages in the entire New Testament, Philippians 2, was actually an early Christian hymn. In these verses we find a succinct and memorable recitation of the person and work of Jesus Christ. And it lifts my heart to think that somewhere, in a time long long ago, there were early Christians singing these words. Singing them so they would stick in their memory. Singing them so they would feel them as well as know them. Singing them so that, when all else fails the song would come back to them on the darkest days.
Such is the power of song.
As I look to the next generation – my own children – there are certain songs that have been so profoundly meaningful to me that I hope and pray they will be able to sing by heart.
There are so many beautiful songs that could have made this list, but here are our 15 favorite traditional Christian hymns!
Introduction written by Michael Kelly. Adapted for this format by the iBelieve.com editorial staff.
Image Credit: Unsplash/kelly-sikkema
1. Amazing Grace
Perhaps the best known of all traditional hymns, “Amazing Grace” was penned by John Newton in 1779. Learn more about the lyrics and story behind the hymn at Godtube.com - Amazing Grace lyrics and meaning
2. Just As I Am
Charlotte Elliot wrote this hymn in 1835 as a testament to her newfound faith in Christ.
3. It Is Well with My Soul
In 1873, Horatio G. Spafford penned the words to this beautiful hymn after returning to the waters where his four daughters had perished in a shipwreck.
4. In The Garden
Following a divine vision in 1912, C. Austin Miles, in a single day, wrote and composed the musical score for this beloved hymn.
5. Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus
In 1922, Helen Howarth Lemmel penned the words to “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus” following many heartaches, including adult blindness and the abandonment of her husband.
6. Just a Closer Walk with Thee
The author of this hymn remains a mystery to this day, but it’s first known recording was in 1941.
7. How Great Thou Art
This beloved hymn describing God’s wondrous work of creation was originally written as a poem by Carl Boberg, in 1885.
8. Because He Lives
Bill and Gloria Gaither composed this beautiful song during the late 1960s when the fear of war and social unrest left many, including the couple, seeking Him for hope and courage to face tomorrow.
9. Blessed Assurance
A personal favorite of mine and many others, penned by blind hymn writer, Fanny J. Crosby, in 1873. Learn more about this hymn at Godtube.com - Blessed Assurance lyrics and meaning
10. Rock of Ages
Inspiration for “Rock of Ages”, written in 1763 by Reverend Augustus Montague Toplady, was said to have been based on Toplady finding shelter from a horrific storm within the rocks of a gorge.
11. The Sweet By and By
S. Fillmore Bennett, along with friend and composer, Joseph P. Webster, created this 1868 hymn.
12. Jesus Paid It All
In 1865, Elvina Hall penned the words to “Jesus Paid It All”, telling of His wondrous love for us and the incomprehensible price that was paid for us to be washed ‘white as snow.’
13. What a Friend We Have in Jesus
In 1855, Joseph M. Scriven originally wrote this hymn as a comforting poem to his ailing mother. Read more about this hymn at Godtube.com - What a Friend We Have in Jesus lyrics and meaning
14. Holy, Holy, Holy
In 1861, Reginald Heber wrote the lyrics that accurately describe the “blessed Trinity.” Read more about the hymn at Godtube.com - Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty lyrics and meaning
15. Come Thou Fount
At the age of 22, Robert Robinson wrote the words to this most beautiful of hymns in 1757.
Didn’t see your favorite on the list? Feel free to share your beloved hymn in the comments.
About the Author: Renee Davis is a boy mom, PPD survivor, recovering fear-a-holic, and former educator. She lives on Christ and caffeine as she attempts to finally transcend mediocrity and live the life Jesus died for her to have. When not tied to her desktop and swimming in coffee, the native Floridian can be found wherever the water is salty, spending time with her son and husband of 15 years.
She’s a contributor to The Good Men Project, Crosswalk, and, most recently, The Washington Post. You can learn more about Renee’s journey and her passion for helping women find their worth in the Word, not the world, at The Stay@Home Scribe.
Originally published Friday, 23 September 2016.