I had a tear in my eye this morning during church service. I looked over to my wife and she also was wiping tears from her eyes. It wasn’t about anything the preacher said or even a passage that pricked our hearts. It was the singing behind us.
We are visiting a church that has been around for about 60 years. We had decided to attend the traditional service which sings old hymns accompanied by an organ and piano. They sing a lot of songs that are not familiar to us, but we have enjoyed learning them. The gentleman behind us probably had been at the church ever since it began so he knew the words and tune well. I guess he was in his mid 70’s and he sang with a quiver in his voice. But every word he sang we could understand, “Wherever He leads I will go. I’ll follow my Christ who loves me so. Wherever He leads I will go.”
We sat there just listening. Our voices were still as we just faced forward and listened, deeply touched. There was just something about the words and how he sang them that led us to believe he lived those words. He had probably been living those words much of his life. Sweeter words could not have been sung that morning.
I spent over 30 years pushing the churches with which I worked to move to more contemporary music. I have been touched by good worship leaders who knew how to take these new songs and do more than just hammer out the notes and perform a song. They led me to worship and I would find my heart opened to God.
But for some reason, whether it is old age or the need to return to my roots, my wife and I have been led back to the more traditional music. I think in a world full of uncertainty and flooded with change, these old songs brought us some much needed peace and assurance. They remind us fondly of simpler times.
In the past weeks I have sung, “The Old Rugged Cross” and “Just As I Am” to name a few. It was wonderful to sing these old songs and to hear the words anew. But even these old standards, without a heart singing them, are just words and notes. This morning there was more; much more; and we were touched by them.