Music tastes and styles change throughout the years, but one thing that never goes out of style is worshipping God through song. Worship consists of many forms, not just singing, and sharing our hearts with God through song is older than the Bible. Ephesians 5:18-19 says Christ’s followers should be filled with the Spirit, speaking to each other in hymns, psalms, and spiritual songs. No matter what era you like, hymns, psalms, and spiritual songs are an encouragement source, especially when based on the Bible.
If you’re looking for ways to change up your devotional time with God, it may be time to dust off your old hymnal and sing some of the hymns you remember from growing up in church. These songs will remind you of some of the precious truths you rarely hear on the radio. Here are some hymns you might remember and why they’re so important.
“A Might Fortress is Our God”
This classic hymn, written by Martin Luther, is based on Psalm 46 and discusses our confidence in God as a defense against the devil and his attempts to thwart us. Aside from the majestic descriptions of God as our helper amid the flood and a bulwark, never failing, this song reminds us of our victory through Christ, whom Luther calls the right Man on our side. Have you ever felt crushed by a spiritual attack? Do you tend to forget that you’re on the winning side? Remember that you have a strong fortress in Jesus that is impenetrable by Satan. Though this world is filled with devils that threaten to undo us, we won’t be afraid because God’s truth will succeed through us. The battle is already won in Christ, and this song reminds us of that in a powerful way.
“And Can it Be That I Should Gain”
The chorus in this hymn is repeated in Billy James Foote’s contemporary worship song “You Are My King,” but Charles Wesley was the first to write the lyrics: How can it be that Thou, my God, would die for me? Aside from the rich theology in this song about Jesus’ atoning blood, based on Romans 5:8, there’s also the presence of joy as the lyrics detail God’s pursuit of our hearts. Do you feel like your past prevents you from being used or wanted by God? Then, meditate on the fact that Jesus left His Father’s throne in heaven and His grace is infinite. Jesus emptied Himself of everything but love and bled for the human race. This song is also a battle cry as the writer encourages us to follow Jesus wholeheartedly.
“It is Well With My Soul”
The tale behind Horatio Spafford writing this hymn puts us into perspective when we think we’ve had a tough time. Spafford’s traumatic life events, including the loss of his 2-year-old son, followed by financial ruin due to the Great Chicago Fire in 1871, came to a head when he got a telegram from his wife, who was traveling on a ship ahead of him with the family. The telegraph told Spafford that all four of his daughters were killed when their ship sunk, and his wife was one of the only survivors. Afterward, as Spafford went to meet his wife, he was encouraged to write this beloved hymn as his ship passed where his daughters died.
Knowing the story behind the lyrics makes them all the more potent as he trusted his life and circumstances to God and sang that it is well in our souls no matter what we’re going through. In whatever tragic circumstance comes your way, can you evolve into a testimony of peace that transcends all understanding, as detailed in Philippians 4:7, as Spafford did? What a comfort and testimony to anyone who wants to know God as the source of our peace.
“Crown Him with Many Crowns”
Every Easter Sunday, we sing about Jesus conquering the grave and reigning as King. However, the other weeks of the year, we tend to believe that Satan is ruling the world, and we long for the day Jesus will have the victory. Still, this song is about Jesus being victorious, not Him coming to rescue us. The lyrics remind us that Jesus sits at God’s right hand on Easter and forever, as detailed in Hebrews 12:2. After rising from the dead, Jesus said that all authority was given to Him in heaven and on earth. Sing this song and remember that Jesus wears the many crowns.
“How Great Thou Art”
In a time when we can easily slip into a “me-perspective,” feeling that we’re the great ones, this traditional Swedish hymn, initially titled “O Store Gud” by Carl Boberg, removes the focus from us and helps us consider all the worlds God’s hands created. It directs our eyes to the One whose power is shown throughout creation, through what Jesus did on the cross, and through the Savior’s return. Some of today’s more contemporary songs focus on our feelings, needs and desires for Jesus to hold us close. Still, this song emphasizes that Jesus is the One who bled and died for our sins, echoing Psalm 48:1.
“In the Garden”
One of the most adored songs celebrating God’s relationship with man is C. Austin Miles’ “In the Garden.” The song starts by saying he went into the garden alone while the dew was still on the roses. His last verse starts by saying he’d stay in the garden with Jesus even though night falls around him. The chorus discusses an intimacy that all believers long to have with Jesus as He walks and talks with us, telling us that we’re His. If you long to know God intimately, this song will remind you that intimacy with God is achievable; we just need to make the time to come to the garden alone and listen for Jesus’ voice.
God is always faithful even when we’re not. His faithfulness extends to our daily and eternal provision. We should remember these hymns because they keep us grateful, humble, and constantly aware that every perfect and good gift comes from God, as detailed in James 1:17.