A lot of people enjoy good books, and I’m one of them. As a boy I’d fall asleep listening to Denver sports, a Hardy Boys mystery in-hand. Dad would check on me, mark my page, click the radio off and turn out my light when he went to bed.
Dad instilled in me a love of good books. For him, studying for a sermon was like a big conversation with his hardbound friends covering his desktop and he’d bring the highlights into the pulpit on Sunday. When I decided to go into ministry He recommended his favorite authors and made sure I had my own copy of some of his favorite volumes.
When Grandpa Ransom went Home to Glory in 1980 I came home with over 200 books that were in his library. When Dad followed in 2002 I came home with I don’t know HOW many from his library .. definitely more than a couple hundred! Dad had two libraries in a way, one of books he used, one of old books he found at library sales, antique stores and in second-hand shops. Many of them are mine now, so it’s no wonder I’m being careful who gets to help me pack these best-friends and get them ready to move.
Tonight I came across one of the library-sale books Dad found several years ago. It’s a collection of hymns and hymn stories that were classics back in 1931. Which means a lot of them I don’t know. I always read the lyrics of a song first, anyway, since it’s vital to a song’s ability to touch people’s hearts. So I enjoyed paging through it for a while, reading lyrics and appreciating rhyme and rhythm. I smiled when I saw the way the lyrics were printed to one hymn I know (see below). This work has been around for centuries. We’ve sung it every way imaginable, from a bunch of energetic kids singing it before dinner at Bible camp, to fully orchestrated and arranged works in large auditoriums and cathedrals, to solo-performances behind the steering wheel of a car as we thank God for something He just did.
I was especially intrigued with the suggested service order next to the hymn. “That works!” I smiled. And the melody is in the Tenor line. They actually harmonized in those days – something I’d like to help bring back if I can.
Here’s a scan of what I found. Slow down to 1931, or 1561 if you’re brave enough. Breathe a bit and imagine the setting as it might have been. Perhaps God will encourage your heart and tired mind the way He did mine this evening.