today in sacrament meeting a gentlemen in our ward gave an amazing talk, speaking of his his love for the hymns of our church and how they had affected his own life and the lives of his family. he came from a home with a father who wasn't overly religious, yet found peace and strength through the beauty of music and hymns.
he spoke of his family rising early on a sunday morning to listen to the wireless (a radio! not the internet for those who came in late - or were born late...) to listen to two radio shows for children (the equivalent of saturday or agro's cartoon connection for any australian's of a similar age to me) follow by the hit parade of all the current top songs.
he then told of his top 4 hymns on his hit parade. such a good way to put it and keep everyone listening... which instantly got me to thinking what the top songs on my hymn hit parade would be.
1. i am a child of god (hymn 301)
i have loved this song since i was a young child... having learnt it at an early age in primary, then singing it each night with my eldest brother as a bedtime ritual, then even singing it at my own baptism. it is a beautiful song, speaking of the purpose of life in such a simple way that even small children can understand and love. madeline has also learnt it and could sing the entire song when she was just two, and insists on singing it with us over and over. it makes me so happy when my primary children ask to sing it with me.
2. lord i would follow thee (hymn 220)
this is such a beautiful hymn. such a beautiful and simple message of how to follow our lord and love our fellow man. the tune brings me such peace and i love to sing the words and feel the sweet spirit held within.
3. come thou fount
published in previous versions of the lds hymnbook, but not included in the current, this old and beautiful hymn contains such sweet and perfect lyrics. i love the melody contained in this hymn and felt such emotion hearing it sung by the ward choir, which i led, last year - which contained an acapella piece in the middle leading into a verse. it is amazing what a hymn can become when those singing and listening are filled with the spirit.
4. because i have been given much (hymn 219)
the lyrics of this hymn always remind me of the words my dear grandfather joseph would speak when praying a blessing on our food. he would always pray "that others would be given the necessities that we ourselves enjoy." i know that from sharing our blessings, we are able to find greater joy in them. this hymn is my father in laws favourite and over the years i have also thought of him and his kindness to me. a girlfriend from church said to me years ago that she would feed the missionaries from our church on a regular basis as she had been told "if you feed others, you will never be hungry." i try to remember that also... not many weeks passed in my child and even young adult years that my mum would not be giving some food to a friend or someone in need. she has forever been a shining example to me of love, of giving and of service. just as the lyrics of this hymn say: "because i have been given much, i too must give."
there are so many beautiful hymns in our church (and other religions too i know...) but i honestly believe there is no other way to be closer to the lord, other than prayer, than through music. my grandmother was blessed with a gift of song and a love for music, which was passed on to me. there is nothing i love more than the music of the gospel and to share it with others has been and still is one of my greatest joys.