I’ve been humming “A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief” the last few days. Singing was always one of my favorite parts of church, and one of the things I really missed when I left, though I’ve found other groups to sing with now. I still love many of the hymns though, feel a catch in my throat if I start to sing, “The Spirit of God like a fire is burning.” I don’t even believe in God anymore, but I still find that line poetic and powerful.
I also really liked “If You Could Hie to Kolob.” I always felt a sense of the mysterious and eternal in that hymn. “Jesus, Lover of My Soul” gave me solace in hard times.
What about you? Did you/do you have a favorite hymn?
I had lot’s of hymns that I liked. For example, the line “And should we die before our journey’s through…” pushed me over the emotional cliff on more than one occasion.
Now, I have a hard time ignoring the messages of the hymns. My disagreement with almost every sentiment expressed ruins the music for me.
When I was in the process of converting, a friend sang “Poor Wayfaring Man” to me as we walked through the rain outside Seattle. It’s still a powerful memory even though it was never my favorite song. “The Spirit of God” and “If You Could Hie to Kolob” were special to me, too; the first was sung at my baptism and the latter, well, it’s a beautiful, haunting song, and I always wondered why we didn’t sing it more often in SM, until my partner pointed out that the context would be pretty bizarre for a newcomer.
All in all, though, I’m with Jonathan, that I can’t really appreciate the songs anymore.
This isn’t specifically related to music, but since your post brought up this memory, I thought I’d share it. The first time I saw the show Big Love, I was really struggling and well on my way to inactivity, but that opening sequence (which I think has since changed) of the characters finding each other through the veil, and then sitting down to dinner on their own planet, brought me to tears. Of course that was the Spirit testifying to me, via HBO, that The Church was True (And Maybe Polygamy, Too, Wink Wink). Yikes. Such an embarrassing recollection!
There are some hymns that make me gag now. And I do have an obnoxious memory of my mother breaking out into “There is beauty all around, when there’s love at home,” whenever we kids would start to fight, which was a lot. There were eleven of us. Our house was like too many rats in a cage!
@ Leah, my grandmother used to warble “Let Us Oft Speak Kinds Words to Each Other” whenever we would fight. It stopped us fighting and united us in angry cries of “Grandma, stop singing that SOOONNNGG!!!”
Praise to the Man, Be Still My Soul, Hie to Kolob, Called to Serve, Nearer my God to thee, The Spirit of God, I have a bunch of favorites, and then I have a bunch that I absolutely despise.
i still really like “o divine redeemer,” the music is beautiful. i also have memories of my mom singing “love at home” when we fought. the ironic part was that her signing always made us fly into a deeper rage.
belaja, that’s too funny!
j-dog, “Be Still, My Soul” is what my grandmother has said she wants sung at her funeral for as long as I can remember.
I have always love… If you could hie to Kolob, and then it was in the old (pre-green) hymn book, but … Come thou fount of every blessing.
Since I’m the third at least to mention hieing to Kolob… Perhaps someone with musical ability to redo the words to make them more atheistically pleasing… (Leah, looking at you here!)
Koda, an interesting idea!
Actually, once when I was at an Episcopal church, we sang a hymn with the Kolob melody and these words. It was lovely. I also really love Ralph Vaughan Williams’ setting. It’s such a haunting melody, so pretty.
Music makes me happy! 🙂
p.s. I love “Come thou fount” too, want to make my own arrangement of it.
I think my favorite hymns were always, “Put your shoulder to the Wheel” and “Praise to the Man.”
i’ve a special place in my heart for a few hymns.
“because i have been given much” — mostly because it was sung at my aunt’s funeral and i thought it was so awesome that she chose *that* one. i miss her.
i also like “poor wayfaring man of grief” but as sung by InsideOut A Capella.
speaking of that group, my husband and mine’s “song” isn’t a hymn but it’s sung by an LDS group and it’s called “silence (heaven’s gift).” it played on our way to the temple the day we married. still love it.
I actually had one running through my head yesterday too. I kept singing “I Need Thee Every Hour”, but in Spanish. It was the first hymn that I memerized in Spanish on the mission.
I just found if you could Hie to Kolob on youtube. I have been out of the church for 2 years. I listen to that music and start to get sucked back in!! Holy Crap!! WTH… I start thinking about how much I love all the Hyms and how they make me feel. Then here come all the little doubts…I know in my head that I’ve done the right thing but my heart sure begs to difer sometimes! I wish I could find a church where I could feel that again. 🙁
Y’know, I get the same burning feeling in my chest from Nine Inch Nails’ “Right Where It Belongs” as I do from “If You Could Hie to Kolob.” Music moves us. Movies move us. Art moves us. The difference is, where the Church comes in, we’ve been trained to believe that we’re being moved by something external rather than our own chemical response.
Nobody’s trying to tell me that Trent Reznor is an emissary of our Heavenly Father, so I can use “Right Where It Belongs” as a momentary meditation on hollowness and then move on with my life. If I feel moved by the haunting melody of “Kolob,” though, well that’s FULL of important meaning for my ENTIRE life, according to the Church.
As members, we deliberately train ourselves to seek out and follow after those experiences. So when they pop up we experience a replication of that chemical memory – and that memory is of something momentous and important and singular, because that’s the story we told ourselves about it.
So, Crystal, I wouldn’t be too worried about the feelings that song elicits. It’s a pretty song and it moves you. It recalls memories from a time when that moving seemed celestial in its origin. It’s natural to feel a bit jolted by that emotion, if you’re now coming from the position of a non-believer.
Over three years ago (!) I blogged about trying to reclaim the hyms by tweaking the lyrics enough to make them meaningful to me in my new mindset. Once in a while, I’ll still sing my version of My Heavenly Father Loves Me.
Chandelle, there are so many secular songs that strike the same emotional chords for me as the hymns used to. Just yesterday I was mentioning Going On by Gnarls Barkley to my wife. I don’t know why, but it speaks to my personal journey.
The only thing missing these days is that I have so much less guilt to feel relieved of. It felt soo good when I a hymn relieved me of that burden for a moment or two. Now, I live in that unburdened state more or less all the time, so songs don’t have that particular power over me anymore.
I love Because I Have Been Given Much because of the message. But it has turned bittersweet. It plays in my mind a lot when I read the socio-political postings of my LDS facebook friends. It really breaks my heart what the Church that aspired to the United Order and sacrificed for each other coming across the plains has become. Maybe it was always like that as a corporation, but in my childhood memories, there were more talks about pride and riches and looking out for the least of your brethren.
I still love singing many of the hymns, and can usually ignore the messages. My sister and I used to make up alternative lyrics while we were teenagers, and I frequently break into “There are penguins in my soul today” while cleaning. My grandma taught me “We are all enlisted till the dishes are done. Martyrs are we! Martyrs are we!”
I can definitely relate to Chandelle’s comment. Most of my “spiritual experiences” were related to music, and realizing that Crosby, Stills & Nash’s “Cathedral” made me feel the exact same way helped me to question the “Spirit’s” value as a measure of truth.
My husband is an ex-mo and his favorite is “A Poor Wayfaring Many of Grief” too, I think it’s the only hymn he likes period. I can’t get him to come around to more modern religious music. 😀
“If You Could Hie to Kolob” and “Praise to the Man” both use popular melodies, so I like to hear them, but I personally actually like “I Stand All Amazed” for hymns, but I also like some EFY songs – Army of Helaman, Firm in the Fire, Remember the Promise. I absolutely despise “Put Your Shoulder to the Wheel.” I’m Catholic, but I’m a music lover too, and the first time I went to an lds service with my husband’s family the relief society women sang I Stand All Amazed. I YouTube’d other lds hymns after that and downloaded the ones I liked. I actually have a good little collection of lds hymns on my computer. haha.