Academic journal article The Hymn

From the Executive Director

Academic journal article The Hymn

From the Executive Director

Article excerpt

For people who work and worship in churches, especially those that observe the liturgical calendar, the first quarter of 2008 promises to be a rather busy and confining experience. Because Easter comes so early this year (less than three months after Christmas!), there is less than the usual amount of time to make the transition from one high point of the year to the other. Here in New England we could very well still have snow when Easter arrives!

It's times like this that make me especially grateful for the gift of hymns, because the experience of singing a hymn so often seems to transcend the boundaries of the few minutes it actually takes to sing one. In considering this phenomenon, I like to say that hymns are "bigger on the inside than the outside." Singing a deeply engaging hymn opens up spiritual and emotional space in a way that few other experiences can equal. With a new hymn that engagement may be enhanced by the sheer delight of discovery-the first encounter with words that express something you might have thought about but had never articulated or the unexpected pleasure of a musical phrase that is somehow both haunting and fresh. With a familiar hymn the cords of memory draw you back to all the other times you have sung it, both ordinary occasions and perhaps one or two poignant moments of special significance, so that the "now" and the "thens" interweave in ways beyond your control. There are also the almost-forgotten hymns that can sneak up on you: especially dangerous are the hymns you thought had no great value or charm, and then you find yourself singing them with new appreciation or even affection. …

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