I may not go to church now, but I was raised a Christian and I still find myself singing hymns from time to time. In fact, they are my favorite kind of music. The other day I was singing “Rock of Ages” and someone raised an eyebrow at me. “You’re a Christian?” he asked. I laughed. “Not exactly, but I do love me a good hymn.”
“Well, I’ll admit, you have the voice for it,” he said. “But why would you sing a hymn if you don’t go to church?” I thought for a moment then said, “Well, I guess the same way a lot of us sing Christmas music even if we, traditionally, don’t celebrate Christmas.”
He stroked his chin. “You have a point,” he said. “I was raised Muslim and obviously Christmas isn’t our thing, but I freaking love the music every December. I sing Joy To The World at our office party all the time.”
“See?” I smiled. “That’s my point. I feel like good music is one of those things you can appreciate regardless of who you are. Whether it’s a hymn, a rap, a Top 40 hit, instrumentals …whatever. If it’s good, and makes you feel good, I don’t see why you can’t enjoy it.”
“I like the way you think,” he said. “But, still, it’s just weird to me that hymns are your favorite kind of music if you’re not particularly religious.”
“I know, it’s weird,” I replied. “But I’ve always loved hymns. Since I was little. Singing was actually the only part of church that I actually enjoyed, and I’m pretty sure I’ve memorized most of the songs in the hymnbook we had. And, as you’ve pointed out …I have more of church girl voice than a pop or R&B voice,” I added, laughing.
“Well, you sound pretty. Keep singing,” he said. “Hey, I should check some out on YouTube. Not gonna lie, sometimes I get tired of the shit on the radio.”
“I hear you on that,” I nodded. “Nothing like a little variety. And the words are usually really nice. A change from the everyday stuff of random lyrics or broken hearts.”
What’s a hymn, really?
Hymns, to me, are pretty much melodies that had religious lyrics assigned to them. Many of the original song sheets were classical or folk pieces that various Christian churches found appropriate for the worship service.
I wouldn’t be surprised if the musical scores associated with many hymns have secular origins. But, regardless of where they come from, I think if a message is positive and uplifting, that anyone can sing them.
Heck, if anyone can walk about imitating Lil’ Wayne and Kanye West, then surely it’s just as cool, or even better, to grace the world with a good hymn. That’s just my take on it.