how to use hymns for great conversation and more effective living…

Speak to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. – Ephesians 5:19-20

Derek Maul

This page has enjoyed a huge spike in views over the past few days. Mostly, I suspect, because of the photography; but also – I hope – because I’ve been writing about important subjects: ideas such as light, life, faith, promise, and the beauty of community.

I often post observations from the Wednesday evening covenant group I’m a part of. We’re 10-15 men, and we meet every week to encourage one another in our journey as disciples of Jesus. WFPC currently hosts five such ongoing men’s gatherings, and I believe the fact of is an important building block in our strength and vibrancy as a church.

A week ago we started a new “Great Hymns of our Faith” study designed to take us through Christmas and into 2017. It’s simple idea, full with inspirational scripture references, deeply meaningful, an excellent discussion generator, and carefully designed to support the shared leadership model that I believe is crucial if we are going to continue to grow.

Here’s How it Works:

img_6048This new study involves, quite simply, talking about our favorite hymns or contemporary worship songs. Each member of the group will be responsible for one such discussion. Here’s how it works, according to the instructions I distributed a couple of weeks ago:

A) Research and prep:

  1. Select a hymn (classic or contemporary) that mean a lot to you.
  2. Read the hymn carefully, then highlight 3-5 things it teaches you about God.
  3. Search the Internet (carefully) or other reference sources for the following: a brief history of the hymn and the story behind it; something about the author of the hymn; One of more scripture references that support the thrust of the hymn.
  4. Prepare 3-5 discussion questions based on what you have learned.

B) Your responsibility on the day you lead discussion:

  • Prepare an opening prayer and lead the covenant (we read our covenant aloud together each time we meet).
  • Tell us specifically why and how this hymn speaks to your soul, and to your story as a disciple.
  • Present your hymn by (pick one or more of the following): sharing a short recording; leading us in singing the hymn (bring enough copies); or some other creative invention.
  • Read the scriptures that relate to the hymn – aloud.
  • Present a series of discussion questions (be prepared to keep the discussion moving).
  • Specifically ask how a truth from this hymn is challenging us in our lives this coming week.
  • Ask for shared joys/concerns, then close in prayer.

img_6049Over the first two sessions we have talked about “It is Well with My Soul” (Kirby), and “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” (David). Hymns already scheduled include “My Redeemer is Faithful and True,” “Great is Thy Faithfulness,” “Now Thank We All Our God,” and “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear.”

So What?

I’m sharing this idea with you all today because some of the huge questions we always talk about in discipleship are: “How do we keep Jesus in our sights all day long?” “How is it possible to hold God close moment by moment?” and, “What does it mean to walk by the Spirit?”

Well, one simple solution – in addition to memorizing scripture – is to pick a truth-laden spiritual song to hum, recite, listen to, and repeat all day long. Imagine the phrase it is well with my soul invading your consciousness during a difficult meeting, or when peace like a river attendeth my soul vying for equal time with one more obnoxious political ad?

The possibilities are endless. Fact is, we have more control over what occupies our minds and spirits than we credit. So, Swing low, sweet chariot, and take my thoughts back to the heart of God – today and every day – Amen.

Because grace is so amazing – DEREK


  1. What a great idea for small group study. Of course anything musical in nature catches my attention, having sung in church choirs for all of my life. Choir members will tell you that often a reading of scripture generates a memory of an anthem or hymn.

    Liked by 1 person

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