Right now I have a precious little newborn pressed up against my neck swaddled and with a full belly. Its 3:08 a.m. All three boys are peacefully sleeping. My iphone is turned up as loud as possible with Pandora Radio "Hymns" station playing. It started out instrumental music, but then I found myself skipping songs until I would come to a hymn. My midnight/morning feedings with Sylas have become a new time for worshiping Jesus.
As I was sitting here a few nights ago doing the same thing, I started to think about why hymns are so refreshing to me. Why do I feel such a deep love and connection to them. Why these old hymns speak to my spirit more tenderly then any contemporary praise & worship song. It took only a fraction of a second to answer my silent questions. My Nammy.
My earliest memories of church are all with Nammy. Every Sunday Gdaddy, Nammy, Mom, Bethany, and I would all attend the same church, Southside Chapel, where my Gdaddy was the pastor. You couldn't see the chapel from the road because it was bordered by a row of thick brush and trees. Beside it was a huge brick baptist church that boasted several hundred members. But, not Southside. Southside was a tiny white wooden chapel. It looked like a church out of an old movie. On an average Sunday we would sit alongside 30 other worshipers. Inside, there were old wooden pews that aligned to provide one main aisle to the pulpit. Nammy, Mom, Bethany, and I always sat within the first three rows. There was one piano, a baptizing pool, and a large wooden stand that Gdaddy would preach behind. We sang hymns at Southside Chapel. And I loved them. My Nammy sang hymns so beautifully. I always stood as close as I could beside her so we could hold hands and sing to Jesus together. Of course, I had my favorites, and so did she. But they were all sang with reverent love. Those hymns were not confined by the walls of Southside. They somehow followed us home after every church service and lingered throughout my atmosphere until the next Sunday.
Laying in a dark room, with her left arm tucked under my head and her right under my sisters, Nammy would sometimes sing us to sleep. She was like a hymn book herself. She didn't need to be told what page to turn to, read the text, or understand the musical notes. She knew them all by heart. She knew them all by soul. Bethany and I could request any one we wanted and she knew every verse. Our favorites were "Amazing Grace" and "What Can Wash Away My Sins" (She would sing and we would sing in response "nothing but the blood of Jesus"). In the car, she sang "Blessed Assurance". Outside on the front porch sang "Jesus, Sweetest Name I know" and "Great is Thy Faithfulness". There wasn't any specific place I had to be to hear my Nammy singing hymns to Jesus. Her praise to Him was everywhere.
Did Nammy know singing those precious hymns to our Savior would penetrate deep into my soul, lighting fire to my life, ultimately resulting in eternal, Heavenbound rewards? Leading me to the salvation of my Soul through Jesus Christ. Yes. I know with my entire being that Nammy was intentional. She knew exactly the power of singing hymns just loud enough so that my little ears could hear them and my little heart could absorb them. She may not have known at the time, the love she was helping grow inside me for these hymns. But the hymns alone are just words on a page. It is the Holy Spirit that speaks truth through those words. Nammy sang them with faithfulness and conviction. When Nammy sang hymns, she wasn't just singing, she was remembering, hoping, thanking, loving. She was leading. She was discipling.
So now, as I type, "Jesus Paid It All" is playing as loud as the volume will allow, but my memories are louder. And I know why I crave these hymns. It isn't the melody or the artist. They aren't just favorite songs that will change with the evolving styles of music. They are timeless treasures to my spirit. Nammy intentionally sang hymns to plant the seed. My soul craves these hymns because they are the earliest memories I have of hearing about Our shared Savior.
** O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.