I was brought up in the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod from birth on. Church has always been a huge part of my life. In my day, kids went to Sunday School and then went to the regular service along with the grown-ups. We were expected to behave ourselves, too. If we got bored, too bad. I usually was allowed to draw on a piece of paper.
Singing was a big part of the service, and not just hymns. There was liturgy as well. I came to memorize all the liturgy and loved it. I loved the hymns. I loved the incidental music that was played on the organ.
I don’t recall when I started hearing hymns not in the Lutheran hymnal, but I enjoyed them as well. Somewhere along the line I started collecting hymnals from Salvation Army. I have quite a few now, and I have many, many favorites. Most of the classics like Old Rugged Cross, Rock of Ages, etc. are lodged firmly in my heart.
Right now there is a hymn called He Died For Me that is just so dear to me. I have not been able to find it on youtube, or I would include a link. I’ve found a hymn called The Look, which has the same words, but is a much, much different tune. And it’s the tune as well as the words that I love. The words were by John Newton, tune by Edwin O. Excell. It’s in a Baptist hymnal, “Favorite Hymns of Praise” so I have the music that I can play on the piano at least.
The church I grew up in was very formal, and that suited me just fine back then. It’s different now. When we moved to Oroville we transferred to the only Lutheran church in town, which was technically Missouri Synod. But because it WAS the only Lutheran church, the congregation was made up of some of the other synods as well, and the service reflected that with the order of service as well as the music. I loved it even more! That’s where I got my love of Are You Washed in the Blood of the Lamb, and Leaning on the Everlasting Arms. And we’ve changed hymnals a couple of times now too. Sadly, we don’t sing much liturgy, which I miss, but I realize the need to change with the times. We do sing a lot, though. I’ve always regretted that I don’t have a better singing voice. But after all, SOMEONE has to be the audience…