Psalms, Hymns and Spiritual Songs to Help You Worship at Home
We hadn’t chosen hymns for this weekend or this month. In the coming weeks, Weekend Playlist will have suggestions for hymns that we might have sung in church. They’ll hopefully tie in with what we’re thinking about in our online service on Sundays.
If churches were still operating as normal this weekend was due to be our communion service. The Presbyterian Church in Ireland has formally advised ministers that virtual communion services should not be held. The Doctrine Committee of our denomination has said: “We should be lamenting the Lord’s grave providence that has resulted in so many Christian congregations no longer meeting.”
The hymns below are a selection of hymns that we have sung at communion services during my time in Buckna. As you listen to them, perhaps you could pray that the Lord would be merciful and would allow us to gather around His table sooner rather than later.
I Stand Amazed
Behold the Lamb
Jesus, Thank You
My Jesus, I Love Thee
Thank You for the Cross, Lord
Hymn of the Weekend
King of Love
This is a modern version of a version of Psalm 23. It is a firm favourite for us in Buckna and along with the next hymn, Abide With Me, will feature in our online service this weekend.
One Hymn Explained
Abide With Me
This is one of the most iconic hymns in Great Britain. It is sung before two key championship games – the Rugby League Challenge Cup and the FA Cup Finals, which are both played annually at Wembley Stadium in London. I’ve had the privilege of attending an FA Cup Final and the experience of hearing this hymn sung by almost 90,000 people was spine-tingling. What struck me on the occasion that I did hear it sung in such a context was that most people don’t know any of the hymn apart from the phrase abide with me.
As well as being used at significant sporting events, state funerals and remembrance services, it was also reportedly played by the band as the Titanic sank.
They story of the hymn’s origin is nearly as dramatic as its history. The author, Henry Lyte, was an Anglican minister ho suffered from ill health for most of his life. Three years before his death at the age of 54, he was diagnosed with tuberculosis. Upon preaching his farewell sermon to his congregation, he retired to his room and wrote Abide With Me. He died a couple of months later and the hymn was sung at his memorial service.
The hymn takes impending death as its subject. The poem is a mediation on what it will be like to face our death. What we need, according to the poem, is God’s presence with us. It’s a very powerful example of mood poetry. Numerous phrases give us a sense of sadness. Illusions to sunset, deepening darkness and closing eyes help us to have an overarching awareness that death is near.
This weekend we’re beginning a series on the book of Ecclesiastes. Abide With Me is the perfect hymn for us to reflect on as we begin this series. Ecclesiastes teaches us that through the passing of time nothing really changes and that death is the great leveller. What we’ll see in coming weeks is that life under the sun is brief and bleak but that life through the Son is eternal and joyful.
That’s the sentiment which is at the heart of Abide With Me. The repeated phrase, which is also the title of the hymn, is essentially a prayer that God would not abandon us and that He would rescue us from the bleak reality of death. Thankfully, He has done so through His Son, the Lord Jesus.
Over the weekend, take some time to meditate on the truths of this hymn. A fruitful exercise would be to take a note of the themes of the hymn and then to find Scriptural references to match them.