Words Old and New

The average church hymnal contains a lot of songs. For some people their words, repeated in various combinations, are considered to be dry as dust and old fashioned. Disparaging comments are made about “traditional” versus “contemporary” as if all church music can be neatly categorized as either painfully old or progressively new, without acknowledging the true meaning of the terms. (“Traditional” is long-established or time-honoured, while “contemporary” is something that is up-to-date or currently in use.)

Many years ago my daughter gave me a book of “daily inspiration from the greatest hymns of all time” — Be Thou My Vision, (John Fischer, Servant Publications, 1995). Today I read an excerpt from the hymn that was sung as the Processional at my wedding, Praise, My Soul, the King of Heaven (Henry Francis Lyte, 1834) – “…alleluia, alleluia, widely as his mercy flows.” More than 175 years after these words were written, the very contemporary application for me came in the personal comparison of grace and mercy:

“Grace is receiving what we don’t deserve. Mercy, on the other hand, is not receiving what we do deserve.”

The relevance of words is not dependent on the period in which they were written but in how they are received by the human soul. Some words will always be timeless, whether sung or read.

How do you suppose people will classify your writing 176 years from now?

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8 thoughts on “Words Old and New

  1. Laura Best says:

    Oh man, what a tough question. I’ll just be hoping a few copies of my book will survive that long. LOL! Have to think about that one for awhile.

    • I wonder what people would think of our writing a generation or two from now if copies did survive. When you look at the quality of writing in some of today’s classics it’s quite a revelation, isn’t it?

  2. Patti says:

    Wow. HARD QUESTION FOR A Monday morning.
    Sigh. With God’s help, I’ll capture His stories as best I can.
    Perhaps they will reflect a fictional portrayal of Romans 8:28. (At least that’s my prayer.)

    Blessings, dear one.
    Patti

  3. Dave Ebright says:

    As the Mark Twain of my era, of course!

    I don’t suppose any of the “classic” authors ever thought their works would survive them for very long, especially after reading their reviews.

    But I’ll stand with my prediction since it makes me feel good, & because I’m allowed to be as self-delusional as I wanna be. Beats the cost of therapy.

    (Please save this comment for for your descendants. This prediction might be worth a gajillion dollars someday! Hah!)

  4. lydiajo39 says:

    I hope they would classify my writing as inspirational, something that made the reader think and re-evaluate his/her life. The purpose of my words is to spur people towards greater intimacy with God.

    At least that’s my hope.

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