Selecting hymns over the past seven months as the pastor of a church has given me far greater familiarity with The United Methodist Hymnal than ever before. Here are a few that I have gained a great appreciation for. These take into account how well known they are to the congregation and how easily sung they are. As our pianist learned to play the piano in order to provide music for our church and has a very busy schedule, I try to avoid very musically complex pieces
#361 Rock of Ages
This 1776 hymn by Augustus M. Toplady is saturated with good theology. It strongly emphasizes total depravity, free grace, and unmerited atonement. For example, verse two reads:
Not the labors of my hands
can fulfill thy law's demands;
could my zeal no respite know,
helpless, look to thee for grace;
foul, I to the fountain fly;
wash me, Savior, or I die.
#127 Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah
An old Welsh hymn by William Williams, it was translated into English in 1771. The tune was known to my congregation (the same as 577 God of Grace and God of Glory), but the words were not. I often include it in sermons about the providential love of God for humanity. The first verse reads:
Guide me, O thou great Jehovah
pilgrim through this barren land.
I am week, but thou are mighty;
hold me with thy powerful hand.
Bread of heaven, bread of heaven,
feed me till I want no more;
feed me till I want no more.
#568 Christ for the World We Sing
Initially, there was no missional hymn in the church's repertoire. Looking through those available, I selected this one because of its well-expressed ecclesiology and musical simplicity. It is a great anthem of the purpose of the Church: to build the Kingdom of God on Earth. The first verse of the 1869 hymn by Samuel Wolcott reads:
Christ for the world we sing,
the world to Christ we bring,
with loving zeal;
the poor and them that mourn
sin-sick and sorrow-worn,
the faint and overborn
whom Christ doth heal.
What are your favorite hymns, and why?
UPDATE: Lyrics to the last hymn corrected.