One of the things that I have long valued is the stories behind hymns and worship songs. Whether it is Victorian hymns that were born of tragedy (often it seems drownings and/or broken engagements) or contemporary worship songs born of struggle (identity, mental health, sexuality, bereavement) or world msuic that reflects a place or a person, knowing the story allows me to value and appreciate many songs/hymns that I actively dislike, or the theology of which disquiets me. So, for example, I value 'Strength will rise' (written by someone experiencing severe depression) even though I don't like it; I appreciate 'Blest be the tie that binds' (the BWA anthem) even though I think it's mawkish.
Recently, I've been remembering and returning to songs that are part of my story. I don't write songs, but I do find that songs (sacred and secular) attach themselves to significant times in my life, it's just the way I'm wired!
So today I decided I'd share one that was hugely significant as a source of hope and encouragement to me fifteen years ago, as I was leaving college and seeking a first pastorate!
Whenever I hear it, I recall the long drive from Manchester to Cambridge, accompanied by the 'Greatest Worship Songs in the World, Ever' (modest title!) on the tape player of my little metro. It's a song of dedication, of trust, of hope in the waiting... and it encouraged and enabled me to live through a long season of waiting and wondering, disappointment and questioning. I still believe in my heart or hearts I was called to the church that said 'no', and I still believe with equal conviction that the pastorates that have followed were every bit as much God's call on my life.
The last time I asked for this song to be used in a service (many years ago now) I was told it wasn't known in that church, and so I haven't sung it for a very long time.
Gentle reader, you may or may not know it, you may or may not like it, but it's a song that's part of my story, so I offer it to today - and I wonder what are the songs that are part of your story, and when you last had or made the opportunity to listen to or to song them.