Millennials are creative, savvy, passionate, well-educated, and the largest generation in U.S. History. But despite their knowledge and connectivity, this vibrant segment of our population is dealing with larger debt, higher unemployment rates, and more job insecurity than previous generations. They’re filled with questions about their future, responsibilities, and finances. What if there was a simple tool to direct Millennials away from their worries and point them back to serenity, security, and hope?
There is. Hymns have encouraged and empowered God’s people through some of the most tumultuous moments in history. King David composed dozens of psalms while being hunted by King Saul. Gideon’s tiny army of 300 defeated the Midianites, who were too many to count, with no weapons—simply lanterns, horns, and shouts of praise. Paul and Silas sang hymns while chained in prison (then watched the prison doors fly open). The mood lifting, memory boosting art form of music utilized to praise God has long had life-giving power.
We tend to label hymns as traditional tunes, accompanied by organs, found in jewel-toned hardbacks in wooden racks on the backs of pews. But a hymn is any song of praise to God. If we move past the archaic stereotype to the heart of the songs—the lyrics steeped in scripture—these hymns still speak today. In fact, many hymns can specifically point Millennials back to the peace and security they long for—the peace and security only found in Jesus.
"It is Well With My Soul"
Millennials are committed to wellness. They spend valuable time and money sourcing healthier foods and staying fit. Yet this generation experiences more stress, anxiety, and depression than previous generations. Their mental health is at risk. “It is Well with My Soul,” centers us on peace from its very first line, When peace like a river attendeth my way. Peace streaming our way like a river to wash away stress? Yes, please!
Life is full and uncertain and intense. Christ has regarded our helpless estate and is looking after us and our lives. Focusing on the fact that Jesus loves us, sees and cares about us can help pull us away from spiraling thoughts, anxious self-talk, and worried “what ifs,” and back to the calming truth that we are loved. Jesus loves us so much He died for us. And because of that unconditional, unending, faithful love of Jesus, no matter what comes our way, whatever our lot, we can sing, it is well. It is well with my soul.
"This Little Light of Mine"
When everything from the political climate to the actual climate feel volatile, socially conscious Millennials are the first to speak up, recycle, donate, and volunteer. The motivation to save the world is because God created this planet. The reason to fight for human rights is because God created each human in His image. But trying to squeeze service into already hectic days, gain momentum for a cause, or muster enough energy to recycle instead of using the nearest trash can or walking instead of driving can be daunting. The hymn, “This Little Light of Mine” is the perfect theme song to energize your actions.
This little light of mine. I’m gonna let it shine.
It can act as a mantra to fuel good deeds.
Hide it under a bushel? No! I’m gonna let it shine.
The lyrics inspire us to get out there and fight for good! Everywhere I go. I’m gonna let it shine. When we recall that Christ has instilled His light in each of us, we can reboot our desire to illuminate the world He created.
"Tis so Sweet to Trust in Jesus"
Millennials crave meaning, rest, joy, stillness. But they’re struggling to find it. With a volatile job market and longer hours due to a 24/7 marketplace there is little rest, barely any time to be still. In the whirlwind of responsibilities, the hymn, “‘Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus,” can act as salve to our souls. The lyrics, ’Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus, Just to take Him at His word; Just to rest upon His promise; Just to know, Thus saith the Lord. can begin to relax a restless brain. It’s alright. It’s okay. Jesus keeps His promises. We can rest in that. We don’t have to worry about the things we can’t control, because we can trust in the One who has ultimate control. No matter if you’re struggling to pay off student loans or debating which job is the right move, you can cling to the reassuring message of this hymn summed up in its final line, And I know that Thou art with me, Wilt be with me to the end. And with the reminder that Jesus is with you always, you can exhale.
"Nothing But the Blood"
Millennials are the first generation to grew up with social media. They can’t remember a time when they couldn’t see what everyone else was doing, when they didn’t in some way, or another compare themselves to others. The hymn, “Nothing But the Blood,” is like a giant exhale of relief. What can make me whole again? Not the latest gear or the newest phone. Not by sending one more email, gaining fifty new followers, or arranging one more meeting. Nothing but the blood of Jesus. Where can we find hope? Peace? Not by securing our dream home, dream mate, dream job, or taking a dream vacation. Not by working harder or logging more hours. Jesus has already provided all we need. The burden isn’t ours to carry.
This is all my hope and peace: nothing but the blood of Jesus. This is all my righteousness: nothing but the blood of Jesus.
Competing for jobs, longing to afford a place of their own, hoping to settle down, barraged with words like “strive,” and “hustle,” Millennials can sometimes feel like there is so much they need to work for and that it all depends on them. But it doesn’t. None of us have to go it alone. We have Jesus. And these old hymns are as timely as ever to remind us, that He is all we need.